Trying to avoid potential allergens is a constant struggle if you have a child with allergies. Common offenders show up in the most unlikely places, including childhood vaccines. Knowing which vaccines could cause problems and which, if any, alternatives exist can help you keep your little one safe not only from an allergic reaction but also from the disease the vaccine prevents. Eggs, not wheat, can cause problems in common childhood vaccines.
Vaccines That Contain Eggs
The influenza virus is the most common vaccine given to kids that contains eggs. The yellow fever vaccine also contains eggs, but it isn't on the list of vaccines kids in the United States typically get. Rabies can also cause problems in some cases if you have an egg allergy, but this isn't a vaccine given to kids unless they've been bitten by a potentially rabid animal. While the measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR, vaccine uses chick embryos as a growth medium, it doesn't appear to cause a reaction even if your child has a severe egg allergy, according to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Ask your doctor if he has any concerns about giving your kiddo the vaccine.
Vaccines and Wheat
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn't list wheat allergy as a potential risk for any childhood vaccine. Wheat, a common allergen, isn't used as an ingredient in any vaccines, according to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The flu vaccine is safe for kids with celiac disease, which causes a reaction to proteins in wheat, Dr. Peter Green, director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, states. Neither wheat allergy nor celiac disease is listed as a contraindication to any routine childhood immunization by the Seattle Children's Hospital.
If your doctor feels that your child needs the flu vaccine even though he has an egg allergy because he has a suppressed immune system or other health problems that would make the flu particularly dangerous for him, he might suggest possible alternatives. One alternative is to give a small test dose of the vaccine and keep your child in the office to watch for a reaction. If none occurs, the rest of the vaccine can be given, again with a waiting period of around 30 minutes after the injection to watch for signs of a reaction, asthma and allergy specialist James Ti, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic explains.
Allergic reactions can occur at any time. Even if your kid has happily scarfed down scrambled eggs for breakfast every day for a week, he could suddenly develop an allergy that could cause a reaction. Other substances in vaccines, such as certain antibiotics or preservatives like thimerosal, can also cause an allergic reaction. Allergies to latex can also cause a reaction after immunization, since syringes and rubber bottle stoppers can contain latex.