ACIP recommends flu vaccine option for those with egg allergies

Federal vaccine advisors today voted in favor of recommending a newly approved recombinant flu vaccine for adults age 18 through 49 who have an egg allergy, regardless of severity.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which advises the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), passed the measure recommending Protein Science's FluBlok for the 2013-14 season in a 13 to 0 vote.

The group also recommended that people who have severe egg allergies consult with a doctor about their condition before vaccination if FluBlok isn't available.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the vaccine on Jan 16, clearing the way for the first flu vaccine that does not use the influenza virus or chicken eggs in its manufacturing process to be brought to the US market.

A recently approved cell-based flu vaccine Flucelvax, made by Novartis, uses flu viruses grown in mammalian cells rather than chicken eggs and is thought to contain hardly any traces of egg. However, the vaccine seed strain used to make the vaccine is passaged in eggs, meaning it could contain a minuscule amount of albumin.

FluBlok is produced with an insect virus and recombinant DNA technology. Its only flu virus component is hemagglutinin, which is produced by infecting cultures of insect cells with a baculovirus.

A number of studies have shown that most people with an egg allergy can be safely vaccinated against influenza, and ACIP's vote today is latest step over the past few years to make it easier.

For the 2011-12 season the panel recommended that people with mild egg allergies, with hives as the only symptom, should be able to receive an inactivated vaccine from a provider familiar with egg allergies who can observe the patient for 30 minutes afterward.

ACIP recommendations become official when they are published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

See also:

Jan 17 CIDRAP News story "FDA approves first flu vaccine grown in insect cells"

Jun 24, 2011, CIDRAP News story "ACIP likely to OK flu shots for egg-allergic patients"

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