FDA approves two flu vaccines for those with egg allergies

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved two flu vaccines that would give people who are allergic to eggs an opportunity to receive a flu shot.

Currently, people with egg allergies cannot get a flu vaccine because it is egg-based. The vaccine is made after the influenza virus grows inside an egg.

Sharon Lofton, 71, cannot afford to become ill. She is allergic to eggs.

“I’ve asked them to go ahead and give it to me anyway and, of course, they wouldn’t do it. I’m sure that was a wise thing,” Lofton said.

Lofton suffers from various health issues. She takes about 24 pills a day. Because she cannot get the vaccine, she is afraid. She said her immune system is compromised already. Health officials have stressed why it is important to get the vaccine. Across the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported a widespread flu outbreak.

“I actually got scared. I thought, ‘What in the world is a person supposed to do who can’t get the shot?’” Lofton said.

Heather Hughest, the Public Relations Coordinator for the Visiting Nurse Service at St. Frances, said there is now hope for people because of the FDA’s approval.

“There is help around the corner. It’s just not quite here yet,” Hughet said.

The FDA approved one vaccine in Nov. 2012. The second vaccine was approved earlier this month. Instead of using eggs to grow the influenza virus, cell lines from mammals and insects will be used. The first vaccine will grow virus strains in animal cells instead of eggs. People 18 and older will be able to get the vaccine.

According to the FDA, the other vaccine is an influenza virus protein made after a virus that infects insect cells is genetically modified. It then creates the flu vaccine protein. People 18-49 will be able to get the vaccine.

“They have a very in depth process for testing the vaccine, before it can ever be used on the market. But, this is the first glow of hope that people have (seen) in quite some time,” Hughet said.

Hughet said people should consult with their doctor about specific things they can do to protect themselves, if they have allergies. Lofton said she asked her pharmacist. Her pharmacist told her to take more Vitamin C.

Regardless, Hughet said people need to remember to follow basic precautions like washing their hands and using hand sanitizer.

“This is one of the seasons worst (flu) seasons we’ve seen in a long time,” Hughet said.

Lofton is pleased to know the FDA approved the two new vaccines. It’ll mean people who have allergies, may one day be able to get the flu shot.

“It is a little bit on the frustrating side, you know. I think other things maybe get approved quicker or something. This is one that’s going to take its time and it’s just going to have to be okay with me. I’m just going to have to be more careful,” Lofton said.

It is unclear when the new vaccines will be on the market.

People who are allergic to chicken protein, and vaccine components, latex or Thimerosal cannot get a flu shot.

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