New flu vaccine for people allergic to eggs

Across New York, the number of flu cases is exploding - 19,000 have been reported so far - prompting Governor Cuomo to declare a public health emergency. And, as Bob Orr reports, New York is not the only state being battered by the flu.

ATLANTAPeople seeking a flu shot are typically asked if they are allergic to eggs because of potential for adverse side effects.

That's because the flu virus used for the vaccines is typically grown in chicken eggs, which could lead to the allergic reaction.

Now, people with serious egg allergies may no longer have to worry about flu shots after a federal advisory panel recommended a new shot made without eggs.

The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices Thursday said a new vaccine that's made without eggs is an option for adults with severe allergies. Current flu shots are made from viruses grown in eggs and could trigger allergic reactions in some cases.

The new Flublok vaccine is made with cell technology, which is used for other kinds of vaccines. It was licensed in January by Protein Sciences Corp.

"The old guidance was that if a person's allergic reaction to eggs was only to have hives, they could get an inactivated influenza vaccine and then be observed for 30 minutes to make sure they had no reaction. Now, in addition to that option, they can get Flublok," Dr. Lisa Grohskopf of the CDC's Influenza Division, told Medscape.

Officials don't know how many Americans skip flu shots because they're allergic to eggs.

About 1 in 66 children have egg allergies, though most kids outgrow them. The new vaccine is not an option for kids. So far it's licensed only for adults ages 18 to 49.