Allergy triggers in vaccines
- Antibiotics: Polio vaccines contain streptomycin, polymyxin B, and neomycin. In addition, the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), and chickenpox vaccine also contain trace amounts of neomycin. Thus, these vaccines may cause an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to these antibiotics.
- Patients who are allergic to antibiotics should consult their healthcare providers before receiving antibiotic-containing vaccines. Depending on the severity of the patient's history of allergic reactions, a healthcare provider may not recommend these vaccines.
- One of the most common drug allergies occurs in response to penicillin. However, there are currently no vaccines made with penicillin or penicillin-related antibiotics.
- Eggs: The current measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine contains trace amounts of egg proteins, to which some patients may be allergic. However, according to the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, MMR can be administered safely to 99% of patients with egg allergies.
- The influenza vaccine, also called the flu shot, also contains egg proteins. Patients who are allergic to eggs should not receive this vaccine because it contains enough egg protein to trigger a severe, life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis. The most severe symptoms of anaphylaxis include low blood pressure, breathing difficulties, shock, and loss of consciousness, all of which can be fatal.
- The yellow fever vaccine is also made with egg proteins. Yellow fever, an often fatal viral infection, is a major concern for patients living in or traveling to South America or Africa. Therefore, patients who are allergic to eggs and are planning to visit these areas should discuss their options with their healthcare providers. Usually, patients who are allergic to eggs receive lower doses of the vaccine over a longer period of time. The doses are gradually increased until the patient is able to take the full dose. This process is called desensitization because the body builds up a tolerance to the egg proteins.
- Gelatin: Some live vaccines, including MMR, chicken pox, and yellow fever, contain gelatin. This ingredient helps to stabilize the vaccine. Patients who are severely allergic to gelatin should consult their healthcare providers before receiving such vaccines.
- Mercury (thimerosal): Thimerosal is a mercury-containing preservative that was once commonly used in vaccines. This ingredient helps kill any live contaminants in vaccines. However, in rare cases, thimerosal may trigger minor allergic reactions in sensitive patients.
- Although no serious side effects have been reported from thimerosal at doses used in vaccines, the Public Health Service (PHS) agencies, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and vaccine manufacturers have agreed that the ingredient should be reduced or eliminated in vaccines as a precautionary measure.
Currently, most vaccines in the United States do not contain thimerosal.
Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.