SMG Study Shows H1N1 Vaccine Can Be Safe Despite Egg Allergy

Last updated: Sep 08, 2010, 15:43 PM

By Joy Pierce Mathews for Summit Medical Group

SMG Allergy and Immunology specialists, Kerry S. Le Benger, MD, FAAAAI, FACAAI, and Gary Pien, MD, PhD, FAAP, recently investigated how to safely immunize high-risk patients during the H1N1 influenza pandemic. Results of their study show that children with an allergy to eggs can be safely vaccinated with appropriate evaluation and precautions. The researchers said that effective communication between pediatricians, pediatric primary care providers, allergists, and local emergency medicine physicians can make all the difference in successfully vaccinating children with an allergy to eggs.

For the study, Drs. LeBenger and Pien evaluated each patient for risk of anaphylaxis. They also educated patients and their parents about the benefits, risks, the influenza vaccine testing method, and desensitization. The patients were given a skin test for the H1N1 vaccine.  Patients with negative tests were given 3 doses of influenza vaccine on 3 different visits. Patients with positive tests did not receive a vaccination unless benefits outweighed risks. 

“We safely and successfully vaccinated 62 egg-allergic children within 3 weeks,” says Dr. Le Benger. “Our results show that it's possible to effectively implement public health policy and prevent disease in children who are allergic to eggs during a major influenza pandemic."

Dr. Pien added, “Our study is a valuable public health service because it helps validate the safety and efficacy of influenza vaccines in people who previously thought they could not have them."

Although vaccination remains the most effective way of preventing influenza, up to 2 million children each year cannot be immunized because they are allergic to eggs.

The departments of Allergy and Immunology and Pediatrics at SMG entirely supported the study, Coordination of Multidisciplinary Resources for Vaccination of Egg-allergic Individuals During an H1N1 (Novel) Influenza Pandemic. Results of the study will soon appear in Allergy and Asthma Proceedings, the official journal of Regional, State and Local Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Societies (RSLAAIS) and American Association of Certified Allergists (AACA).