Winter is fast approaching and the influenza vaccine is one way to reduce the risk of infection from certain strains of the influenza virus. The influenza (or flu) virus can be especially serious for elderly people, pregnant women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and in young children, as well as for people with underlying medical conditions.
Although the vaccines contains a very small amount of egg protein, many studies have shown it can be safely administered in children with egg allergy, including those with a prior history of egg anaphylaxis. New ASCIA guidelines have been released on the administration of influenza vaccines in those with egg allergy (see https://www.allergy.org.au/health-professionals/papers/vaccination-of-the-egg-allergic-individual).
These new guidelines now suggest:
- The vaccine can be administered in community vaccination clinics as a single dose followed by 15-30 min wait period (i.e you do not have to go to a hospital vaccination clinic to have the vaccine if you have an egg allergy)
- Split dosing is no longer required (i.e. everyone can have a single dose, even if you have had anaphylaxis to egg)
- Allergy specialist review before vaccination is not required unless the person has had prior anaphylaxis to the influenza vaccine itself
The influenza vaccine is available and recommended for children > 6 months of age. It usually needs to be purchased, and is only available for free under the National Immunisation Program for children with certain medical conditions (e.g. severe asthma, impaired immunity, diabetes) or for Aboriginal/Torres strait children (> 6 months or < 5 years of age or those > 15 years of age).