Why Are Preservatives Sometimes Used In Vaccines
Preservatives are used to protect vaccines packaged in multi-dose vials. Each time a vaccine dose is drawn from a multi-dose vial, bacteria or fungi can enter the vial. Receiving a vaccine contaminated with bacteria or fungi can be dangerous. Preservatives are needed to prevent contamination of multi-dose vials each time individual doses are drawn.
Thimerosal use in vaccines and other medical products has a record of being very safe. Data from many studies show no evidence of harm caused by the low doses of thimerosal in vaccines.
Do Flu Vaccines Contain Thimerosal
Flu vaccines in multi-dose vials contain thimerosal to safeguard against contamination of the vial. Most single-dose vials and pre-filled syringes of flu shot and the nasal spray flu vaccine do not contain a preservative because they are intended to be used once.
A list of available flu vaccines and their thimerosal content is available.
What Are The Side Effects Of The Flu Vaccine
Common side effects of the flu vaccine include: soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site, fever, headache, nausea, and muscle aches.
Less common side effects may include: fainting, Guillain-Barre syndrome , and allergic reactions.
Egg Allergy: Eggs are used in the production of some flu vaccines. Those who experience only hives after eating eggs or egg-containing products may still receive any flu vaccine formulation appropriate for their age and health status. Those with a more severe egg allergy should only receive a flu shot in a medical facility that is prepared to handle a severe allergic reaction .
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What Keeps Todays Childhood Vaccines From Becoming Contaminated If They Do Not Contain Thimerosal As A Preservative
- The childhood vaccines that used to contain thimerosal as a preservative are now put into single-dose vials or syringes, so no preservative is needed. In the past, these vaccines were put into multi-dose vials, which could become contaminated when new needles were used to get vaccine out of the vial for each dose.
What To Do If Your Older Parent Or Relative Is Unwilling Or Unable To Get Vaccinated
Now, what if your older parent wont, or cant, get a flu shot?
Some older adults just dont want to get it. Here are some things you can try:
- Ask them to clarify what their concerns are. Its important to start by listening, in order to understand what an older person believes about the flu and the flu shot.
- Provide information to dispel myths and misunderstandings. Sometimes all people need is a little of the right kind of information.
- Point out that it can benefit an older persons family members and neighbors. Getting a flu shot can reduce the risk that we pass the flu on to another person. People are sometimes more willing to take action to protect others than to protect their own health.
- Make sure they know they wont have to pay for the flu shot. If you get the shot from a provider who takes Medicare, it shouldnt cost anything.
- Offer to go together to get your flu shots. Sometimes it helps to make it a family outing.
There are also some older adults for whom its hard to get a flu shot, such as people who are homebound or have very limited transportation options.
If this is your situation, the main thing to do is encourage flu shots for family and others coming to the house. For older adults who dont get out much, their main source of exposure to influenza and other dangerous viruses will be from those who come to them.
Above all, dont panic if your older loved one cant or wont get a flu shot.
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What Is Thimerosal Is It The Same As Mercury
- Thimerosal is a mercury-containing organic compound and has been used for decades in the United States and other countries. Its used as a preservative in a number of biological and drug products, including many vaccines, to help prevent potentially life threatening contamination with harmful microbes.
- Mercury is a metal found naturally in the environment and affects the human body differently than thimerosal.
When Should I Get The Flu Shot
The flu season varies from year to year, but it has been known to start as early as October, peak in the winter months between December and February, and then may continue as late as May. The CDC recommends getting the flu vaccine early in the fall, before the flu season begins, ideally no later than the end of October. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for your body to build up the antibodies against the flu. It’s better late than never, though. Even if you don’t get the flu vaccine until January or later, you can still benefit from it.
It’s important to get the flu vaccine every year because both you and the flu virus change. The antibodies that you create to build immunity to the flu will decrease with time, so you need a new vaccine to renew your supply of antibodies. The flu viruses are also constantly changing, which is why there is a new formulation every year.
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What Is The Flu
Influenza is a respiratory illness, which means that it affects your airways. It is spread easily from person to person through coughing, sneezing, and even talking. When you get the influenza virus it sometimes takes one to four days before you start noticing symptoms. This means that you could spread the flu to those around you before you even know that you’re sick. Adults may be able to spread the flu for up to seven days after first becoming sick, and children may continue to spread the flu for even longer.
What Are Other Ways I Can Protect Against The Flu
In addition to your yearly flu vaccine, there are a few other things you can do to protect your family and yourself from the flu. There are daily precautions you can take such as limiting contact with sick people as much as possible and washing your hands with soap and water often. If you have received a prescription for flu antiviral medications, it’s important to take them as directed by your health care provider.
But remember, the number one way to protect you and your family against the flu virus is to get vaccinated every year.
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Can You Get The Flu From The Flu Shot
No, you cannot get the flu from the flu vaccines. Flu vaccines given with a needle are made with either inactivated viruses, or with only a single protein from the flu virus. The nasal spray vaccine contains live viruses that are weakened so that they will not cause illness.
While some people may experience a low-grade fever or body aches as a side effect, that does not mean the vaccine gave them the flu. For example, if you got sick with the flu shortly after receiving a flu vaccine, it means you were exposed to the flu before your body had the chance to fully develop the antibodies needed. It takes about two weeks after receiving the vaccine before you’re protected against the influenza virus.
Talking To Your Doctor
Its always a good idea to talk with your doctor, especially if you havent gotten the flu vaccine before or if your health has changed. If you have an allergy or other condition that might make the vaccine risky for you, check with your doctor before getting vaccinated.
Here are a few questions to ask your doctor:
- Is there any reason why I shouldnt get the flu vaccine?
- What side effects might it cause?
- What should I do if I have side effects?
- Should I get the flu shot or nasal mist?
The flu vaccine is considered safe. You cant catch the flu from the vaccine, because the virus in the vaccine has been killed or weakened.
The live vaccine isnt recommended for people with weaker immune systems.
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What Do Seniors Need To Know About The Flu Vaccine
Compared to younger adults, people who are 65 years and older have a greater risk of developing serious complications from the flu. It has been estimated that in recent years seniors have accounted for 50-70% of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations and 70-85% of seasonal flu-related deaths. In addition, seniors typically develop weaker immune responses to the flu vaccine. That’s why there are special flu vaccines specifically designed for seniors: the high-dose flu vaccine and the adjuvanted flu vaccine.
Compared to a regular flu shot, the high-dose vaccine has four times the amount of antigen, which is part of the vaccine that triggers the immune response. The adjuvanted flu vaccine contains an extra substance called an adjuvant that helps the vaccine work better by giving you a stronger immune response. Both the high-dose vaccine and the adjuvanted flu vaccine have demonstrated stronger immune responses in persons 65 years and older as compared to those who received the standard flu shot. Note that older adults can get any flu vaccine approved for use in their age group, including standard-dose flu vaccine.
Why Is Thimerosal Used In Some Vaccines
- Thimerosal is used as a preservative in multi-dose vials of flu vaccines to prevent the growth of dangerous microbes.
- Each time a new needle is inserted into the multi-dose vial, it is possible for microbes to get into the vial.
- The preservative, thimerosal, prevents contamination in the multi-dose vial when individual doses are drawn from it.
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Who Should Not Get The Flu Vaccine
Children younger than 6 months are too young to receive a flu vaccine.
If you are interested in the influenza vaccine nasal spray, there are a few more things to know. Because it contains a live virus, you should not get the influenza nasal spray if you are pregnant, have a weakened immune system or are in close contact with persons who have a weakened immune system , or have taken an influenza antiviral medication within the last 48 hours.
Children and adolescents who receive aspirin or salicylate-containing medication should not receive the influenza nasal spray, nor should young children who have experienced an episode of wheezing in the last 12 months or who have been diagnosed with asthma. People with chronic health conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder or diabetes should talk with their health care provider before receiving the influenza nasal spray.
Is The Flu Dangerous
The symptoms of the flu could range from mild to severe. If you get the flu, you may experience a sudden fever, cough, aches, and fatigue. People who are 65 years or older, those with certain health conditions , pregnant women, and young children are considered high risk and are especially vulnerable to the flu and its complications. Every year, thousands of people die in the United States due to the flu, and even more are hospitalized. Minority populations have higher rates of flu-related hospitalizations. Non-Hispanic Black people have the highest rates of flu-related hospitalizations, followed by American Indian and Alaska Native populations and Hispanic and Latino populations. Minority populations also have lower rates of flu vaccination. Flu vaccination rates for the 2019-2020 season were estimated to be 38% for Hispanic adults and 41% for non-Hispanic Black adults, compared to 53% for non-Hispanic White adults.
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Why Do Some People Worry About Thimerosal In Vaccines
You may have heard that thimerosal has mercury in it. Not all types of mercury are the same. Some types of mercury, like mercury in some kinds of fish, stay in the human body and can make people sick. Thimerosal is a different kind of mercury. It doesnt stay in the body, and is unlikely to make us sick.
What If I Have An Egg Allergy
Most flu shots and the nasal spray flu vaccine are made using egg-based technology, and may contain a small amount of egg proteins. However, studies show that severe allergic reactions to the flu shot and nasal spray vaccine are unlikely in people with egg allergies. People who have experienced only hives after exposure to eggs can receive any influenza vaccine. If eggs have given you serious allergic reactions, meaning any symptom other than hives, you can still receive any of the available influenza vaccines but you should receive it in a health care provider’s office, hospital, clinic, or health department under the supervision of a health care provider who can recognize and manage severe allergic reactions. Your provider may recommend that you receive the egg-free influenza vaccine.
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Free Flu Shots Through Clinics Community Organizations And Public Health Departments
Many health departments and free clinics offer low-cost or free flu shots across the U.S. Here are a few examples:
Most colleges offer free flu shots for their students. Check on your schools website to confirm.
Military veterans enrolled in health care through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs can get a flu shot at their nearest VA health care facility. This program does not apply to family members of veterans.
Many county health departments offer free, or discounted, flu vaccinations during flu season. Examples include:
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, in partnership with select LA County Libraries, will offer free flu shots through November.
The Houston Health Department offers flu shots to uninsured and underinsured people on a sliding scale that ranges from free to $15.
Cant find a location near you on this list? Watch for announcements on your local news station or in your local newspaper or search online for free flu shots in your area or through your citys health department.
How Is Flublok Different From Other Influenza Vaccines
Most influenza vaccines are made via an extremely complicated process that starts out with fertilized chicken eggs as a culture for the virus. This traditional method is extremely safe and effective however, advanced technologies have arrived on the scene. Flublok® is the only licensed influenza vaccine on the market that does not use eggs, antibiotics, or live influenza virus in any part of the manufacturing process. approval represents a technological advance in the manufacturing of an influenza vaccine, said Karen Midthun, M.D., director of the FDAs Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.1 The approval of Flublok stands as one of the most significant improvements in flu vaccine technology in the past 50 years.2 The vaccine is made via a cutting edge, cell-based technology that is very similar to that used to create cervical cancer vaccines. The FDA has also referred to Flublok as Revolutionary.3 According to Jerry P. Weir, Ph.D., the director of the Division of Viral Products in the FDAs Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Flublok® is an important advance that will supplement egg-based vaccines.3 Flublok® is also preservative-free.
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Who Should Avoid The Flu Vaccine
The flu vaccine is very effective, but it isnt right for everyone.
Dont get the vaccine if youve had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient it contains, including egg protein.
You also should avoid the flu vaccine if youve had Guillain-Barré syndrome. In 1976, a swine flu vaccine was linked to an increased risk for Guillain-Barré, which causes the immune system to attack and damage the protective coating around nerve cells.
Guillain-Barré syndrome causes extreme weakness and tingling in the limbs, known as severe peripheral neuropathy. It can be life-threatening in rare cases.
Theres no clear link between the current flu vaccine and Guillain-Barré. If any risk exists, its very small, affecting about 1 out of every 1 million people vaccinated.
The vaccine also isnt recommended for babies under 6 months old because it hasnt been proven safe in infants.
Talk to your doctor if you have a weakened immune system, or if you take medicine to suppress your immune system. You may not respond as well to the vaccine.
If youre sick, you might want to put off the flu shot until you feel better.
Where Can I Find Information About Vaccine Supply
Information about vaccine supply is available here.
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The Vaccines Provided At Ucla Health Include