Allergy and immunisation
Hypersensitivity/allergic reactions following immunisation can be classified as:
- Urticarial- a red, itchy skin rash often referred to as hives, which characteristically has a central raised white wheal surrounded by an area of redness
- Non-urticarial- skin changes that don’t involve hives
- Angioedema- swelling in the deeper layers of the skin
- Generalised allergic reaction- involving symptoms like vomiting and diarrhoea
- Anaphylaxis- a sudden onset and rapid progression of symptoms involving the skin, respiratory and/or cardiovascular systems
Suspected hypersensitivity reactions, particularly non-urticarial skin rashes following immunisation, are common, however true vaccine allergy, where a person is contraindicated from being immunised with the same vaccine in the future, is rare (less than 1 case per million doses).
A true vaccine allergy can only be diagnosed after specialist consultation with a vaccine allergy specialist, often after specific testing is carried out.
For management of immunisation hypersensitivity/allergic reactions, referrals should be made to SAEFVIC for review. SAEFVIC staff may direct the referral to an Immunisation Specialist or been seen directly by a Vaccine Allergy Specialist.
Influenza vaccine and egg allergy
All patients with egg allergy sensitisation (ie positive skin prick or RAST testing, but have not eaten egg) can receive the influenza vaccine without the need for prior testing.
Patients with mild to moderate egg allergy (not anaphylaxis) can receive the influenza vaccine in primary care (eg immunisation centre or GP) with an observation period of 30 minutes post vaccination.
Patients wishing to be immunised against influenza who have had previous anaphylaxis to egg should be referred to an Allergist. This will be administered under specialist supervision with observation for 30 minutes after immunisation.
MMR vaccine and egg allergy
Although measles and mumps vaccine viruses are cultivated in eggs, these vaccines (MMR or MMR-Varicella vaccines) contain negligible amounts of egg protein/allergen. Therefore individuals with allergy/anaphylaxis to egg can be safely immunised in the community setting without any need for extra monitoring or additional observation.
Reviewed by: Rachael McGuire (MVEC Nurse Educator) & Kirsten Perrett (Paediatrician, Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne)
Date: July 2016
Materials in this section are updated as new information and vaccines become available. The Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre (MVEC) staff regularly reviews materials for accuracy.
You should not consider the information in this site to be specific, professional medical advice for your personal health or for your family’s personal health. For medical concerns, including decisions about vaccinations, medications and other treatments, you should always consult a healthcare professional.
Welcome to MVEC
The Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre (MVEC) is a new web-based initiative, providing up-to-date immunisation information for healthcare professionals, parents and the public.
It is a collaboration between The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) and its Melbourne Children’s campus partners (Murdoch Children's Research Institute and The University of Melbourne) and Monash Health.
MVEC aims to address common queries around vaccines and to promote the benefits of immunisation for both children and adults.