How seriously do you take the seasonal flu? Is it something that you sometimes hear about, but don’t often pay much attention to? Or, are you someone who vigilantly gets the new flu vaccine each year, as recommended? Chances are, if you have an egg allergy, you’ve written off the flu shot entirely due to a longstanding belief about its potential harm to you.
You see, flu vaccines are actually made in part with chicken eggs — resulting in small amounts of a protein called ovalbumin in the vaccine itself. Given the origin of the vaccine’s ingredients, those with egg allergies understandably were advised not to receive the seasonal flu vaccine to avoid potential allergic reactions. However, a new paper published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology has fairly convincingly overturned this outdated belief.
First of all, the paper notes, an egg allergy in a fully grown adult is surprisingly rare. Many adults who believe they have an egg allergy actually did have that condition as a child; but, in the vast majority of cases, egg allergies are a pediatric problem and do not persist into adulthood. Even given this fact, the paper’s new published guidelines indicate that even adult egg allergy sufferers don’t have to worry about the tiny trace amounts of ovalbumin; rather, the flu itself is a more formidable condition.
Too many people mix up the flu and the common cold. Influenza is far more serious than a simple cold, although many otherwise healthy individuals are able to fight it off after a week or two. Throughout history, influenza has killed millions of people; and even now, in 2017, tens of thousands of people in the United States alone die from it each year.
Different strains of influenza (and strains change each year) can affect different people in different ways, even if those people are generally in good health. No, the flu vaccine doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get it, but it’s a huge protection against a potentially serious condition. Think about it this way: the flu vaccine is a quick, cheap (oftentimes free) insurance policy against a scenario that could adversely affect your life in potentially very serious ways. It’s worth it to go out on your lunch break and take care of it: after all, you only need it once per year. And if you don’t get it, well… the yolk’s on you.