Alternative vaccine available for people allergic to flu shots

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Alternative vaccine alavilable for people allergic to flu shot (WLS)

Like football games and warm coats, the flu shot is part of the fall ritual for millions of Americans. But there are people who actually may be allergic to them.

It takes less than 10 seconds, then it's over. Unless you're someone who is allergic to flu shots.

"There are some people, of course, that are allergic to the egg in the vaccine, that are allergic to other things, maybe even the preservative," said Larry Altshuler, MD, Director of Oncology Intakes, Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

That's just what happened to Ashley Wilson. Working in a hospital setting, she knew it was vital to protect herself against the flu.

"I got one and promptly got sick in the way of hives, swelling and itching and the closing of the airways. That sort of thing," Wilson said.

Ashley is one of the rare people allergic to eggs.

"There is another alternative for that. It's called a 'block vaccine.' It's a little more expensive. It's $130, compared to your $10 flu vaccine, but it's actually made of insect parts," Altshuler said.

For Wilson, it was a good alternative.

"So, it's actually insect-based. So that was definitely better than facing having to wear a mask for three months during flu season," Wilson said.

Doctors warn people not to use the small chance of a reaction as an excuse to avoid getting a flu shot.

"The real reason for the flu vaccine is to reduce the risk of death, and it does that. It can decrease the risk of hospitalization," Altshuler said.

The flu shot is not a guarantee you'll avoid the flu. But for a lot of people, it literally can be a life saver.

Altshuler said if you miss getting your shot in the fall, don't wait until next year. Take it during the winter months because the flu season hits hardest in March.

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