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"There are hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and tens of thousands of deaths in the United States every year because of the flu, most of which could be prevented with a flu shot", allergist Dr. John Kelso, a member of the allergy association and coauthor of the new guidelines says in a statement.

It's still early in the flu season, but hospitals in Hamilton are already beginning to plan for a "surge" in visits to the emergency room.

There have been 39 flu-related hospitalizations so far in Cuyahoga County, 33 in Summit County and 42 in Stark, according to health department statistics. "The overwhelming evidence since 2011 has shown that a flu shot poses no greater risk to those with egg allergy than those without".

An estimated 5 to 20 percent of people are expected to get the flu this year, depending on the severity of the season.

Historically, people with egg allergies weren't able to take advantage of the same flu vaccinations that the general population can.

The authors note that previous studies have shown that patients with egg allergy (including life-threatening allergies) have received a flu shot without experiencing allergic reactions. It's not too late to get a flu shot, health officials said.

The guidelines are the result of an analysis of 28 studies involving 4,315 egg allergic patients, including 656 patients with a severe egg allergy.

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If the vaccine is age-appropriate, it can be used for anyone with or without egg allergy.

"You may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick", the agency says.

Ferguson said besides getting a flu shot, people should wash their hands frequently and cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze.

"We have been seeing an increase since the fall in those numbers, but they've been stable in the last couple of weeks", said Laura Bourns, a public health physician.

The DPH said more than 250 people tested positive for the flu as of early December. But, he points out, the amount of egg proteins in the vaccine each year has been decreasing.

"My understanding is there's definitely some open beds at this time, we have the capacity to open extra beds if needed still", Khan said.


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