Is There Mercury In The Flu Shot
Vials of vaccine that contain more than one dose contain thimerosal, which is a mercury-based preservative. These multi-dose vials have a preservative because every time a needle enters the vial there is a risk of introducing bacteria or fungi, which could be dangerous. Thimerosal protects the vaccines from contamination. Our bodies remove thimerosal quickly and easily, so it does not stay or build up in our system. Flu vaccines available as single-dose, pre-filled syringes and nasal spray formulations of the flu vaccine do not contain thimerosal.
Evergreen Flu Vaccine Ingredients: The Preservatives And Additives
Beyond the three to four viral components, a number of additives and preservatives are required to make vaccines effective and to keep them from going bad. These ingredients, sometimes covered as trade secrets by drug companies in less public drugs, have led to many a conspiracy theory that anti-vaxxers would have you latch onto. Its really much more boring than that.
Here are some of the ingredients you will find in the 2021-2022 flu vaccine and why theyre there.
The Ingredient: Aluminum Salts
Use: Boosts bodys response to the vaccine
The Ingredient: Sugar or gelatin
In: Most vaccines
In: Few flu vaccines only multi-dose vials
The CDC says: Thimerosal has a different form of mercury than the kind that causes mercury poisoning . Its safe to use ethylmercury in vaccines because its processed differently in the body and its less likely to build up in the body and because its used in tiny amounts. Even so, most vaccines do not have any thimerosal in them.
The Ingredient: Egg proteins
In: Some vaccines
Use: Growing the vaccine
The CDC says: Because influenza and yellow fever vaccines are both made in eggs, egg proteins are present in the final products. However, there are two new flu vaccines now available for people with egg allergies.
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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What Is In The Flu Shot
Every year, scientists around the world do their best to get one step ahead of the flu by developing that years iteration of the flu shot. As a reminder, vaccines work by giving your body a chance to fight off an altered version of a virus or bacteria, so that if and when it encounters the live virus in the wild, it already knows how to react, and you never get sick. But whats in a flu shot is a little more complicated.
The recipe starts with the four most common influenza strains from around the world, injected into fertilized chicken eggs or mammalian cells, deactivated so it doesnt give you the actual flu, mixed with a grab-bag of preservatives, antibiotics, and sugars. This combination is then formulated for a shot or spray to make it in time for the 2021 flu season. For those science-is-fucking-awesome types out there, this is indeed awesome.
Its also complex as hell something that keeps virologists on their toes every year. Influenza strains constantly mutate, but scientists get one shot at the annual vaccine, making their best guess some 30 weeks in advance to get the flu shot out to the public.
Antivirals: What To Do When You Already Have The Flu
When you come down with the flu, antiviral medicine can shorten its duration. The FDA has approved six influenza antiviral drugs in the U.S. But theyre all in somewhat short supply, so you might not be given them if youre not a child or elderly. This is why we get our flu shots, people!
The antiviral you probably already know goes by the brand name of Tamiflu, which you can get over the counter with relative ease even if youre not young or elderly. This drug, along with two others that work in the same manner , block an enzyme the virus needs to replicate. They can shave up to a day off your illness, but they need multiple doses to keep the drug working. Tamiflu, for instance, requires patients to take it twice a day for five days.
The newest antiviral, Baloxavir marboxil , is a single-dose antiviral drug approved in 2019 by the FDA. Baloxavir is for people with basic flu who are 12 years and older and have had symptoms for less than 48 hours. In a phase 2 trial published by The New England Journal of Medicine, it shaved off upwards of 28 hours of flu symptoms . This antiviral stands out in that its the only one that gets to the root of replication, messing with the virus RNA to stop it from reproducing. Also, its one of the only ones to come in a single dose, so you can pop it once and forget about it.
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Can I Get The Flu From The Flu Vaccine
No. The virus thats in the flu vaccine is either dead or for FluMist Quadrivalent extremely weak. Because of this, flu vaccines are unable to cause the flu. However, some people experience flu-like symptoms in the days that follow their vaccine. These are side effects of the flu vaccine, and its a sign your immune system is learning how to fight the flu virus.
After your flu vaccine, you may experience:
A sore, red, or swollen arm
Remember, these are expected side effects and dont mean youre getting sick with the flu. They should go away within a few days.
Unfortunately, its still possible to get sick with the flu after youve received your flu vaccine. It takes about 2 weeks after your vaccine for your immune system to protect you fully. So its possible to catch the flu during that time. And as mentioned earlier, flu vaccine effectiveness isnt perfect. Its also possible to get sick with a strain that wasnt included in the vaccine.
Scientific Research Does Not Show A Connection Between Thimerosal And Autism
Research does not show any link between thimerosal in vaccines and autism, a neurodevelopmental disorder. Many well conducted studies have concluded that thimerosal in vaccines does not contribute to the development of autism. Even after thimerosal was removed from almost all childhood vaccines, autism rates continued to increase, which is the opposite of what would be expected if thimerosal caused autism.
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The Best Flu Vaccine For People Over 65
As we get older, our immune systems have a harder time responding to illnesses and vaccines. To help provide better protection, there are a few recommended options for older adults this year:
Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent also known as the high-dose flu shot
If one of these three vaccines isnt available, you should still get vaccinated with another flu vaccine thats FDA-approved for your age range. All flu vaccines are effective against the flu. Its better to be vaccinated than to try to wait for a particular flu vaccine to become available.
How To Schedule Your Flu Shot
If you already have a primary care appointment scheduled, you can request a flu shot during that appointment. Otherwise, book your flu shot by calling your primary care office or , or direct scheduling in myUCLAhealth.
Direct schedule your flu shot: To direct schedule your flu shot, login to myUCLAhealth. Navigate to “Visits” and select “Schedule an Appointment.” Under appointment types, select “Flu Vaccine Only.” Answer all screening questions related to COVID-19, select a location and available time, and hit “Schedule.”
Extended and weekend hours in select clinics: For your convenience, we offer extended and weekend hours for flu vaccinations in our immediate care locations and many primary care offices.
50 Plus Program: Flu shots will be available at no cost for members of the UCLA Health 50 Plus Program at any CVS MinuteClinic and inside select CVS/Pharmacy and Target locations in Southern California. If youre a current 50 Plus Program member and would like to receive the flu vaccine voucher, please call .
To join the 50 Plus Program and receive a flu voucher with your new member packet, please call 800-516-5323 or fill out an online application.
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Flucelvax Quadrivalent Side Effects
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to Flucelvax:hives difficulty breathing swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
You should not receive a booster vaccine if you had a life threatening allergic reaction after the first shot.
Keep track of any and all side effects you have. If you receive an Flucelvax Quadrivalent in the future, you will need to tell the vaccination provider if the previous shot caused any side effects.
Flucelvax Quadrivalent is made from “killed viruses” and will not cause you to become ill with the flu virus. You may have flu-like symptoms at any time during flu season that may be caused by other strains of influenza virus.
a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out
severe weakness or unusual feeling in your arms and legs
numbness, pain, tingling, burning or prickly feeling
vision or hearing problems or
a fever higher than 101 degrees F.
Common Flucelvax side effects may include:
pain, redness, tenderness, swelling, bruising, or a hard lump where the shot was given
diarrhea, loss of appetite
headache, tiredness or
fussiness, crying, or drowsiness in a child.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report vaccine side effects to the US Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-822-7967.
The Best Flu Vaccine If Youre Scared Of Needles
While most people use the terms flu vaccine and flu shot interchangeably, not all flu vaccines use a needle to deliver the ingredients.
FluMist Quadrivalent is a nasal spray vaccine. However, its not the right choice for some people. This vaccine is only FDA-approved for people between ages 2 and 49. FluMist Quadrivalent is also a live attenuated vaccine, meaning it contains weakened versions of the flu viruses instead of inactivated viruses. People who are pregnant and those with certain health problems such as a weakened immune system shouldnt receive it.
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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.
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.
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How Does Thimerosal Work In The Body
- Thimerosal contains ethylmercury, which is a completely different form of mercury than elemental mercury or methylmercury, which are found in the environment and some kinds of fish. Elemental mercury and methylmercury stay in the human body and at high levels can make people sick. But ethylmercury does not stay in the body a long time and clears out of the blood quickly, so it does not build up and reach harmful levels. In fact, when thimerosal enters the human body, it breaks down to ethylmercury and thiosalicylate, which are easily eliminated.
The Cheapest Flu Shot Retailers
If you dont have health insurance, employer, health department, or other source that offers free flu shots, there are a number of retailers offering discounted or cheap flu shots for the 2021-2022 flu season. And if you do have health insurance that covers flu shots , it might even be more convenient to get a free flu shot at one of these locations than going to your doctor. Most offer online scheduling.
Retailers and pharmacies usually do not offer their flu shot prices online, but thankfully I have a phone and made a few calls. Here are the flu shot prices that I found :
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When Should I Get My Flu Vaccine
Flu vaccine effectiveness can have a lot to do with when you get it. Its recommended to get your flu vaccine about 2 weeks before flu season begins in your area preferably by the end of October. However, if you get the flu vaccine too early July or August, for instance you may not be protected for the entire flu season.
While September or October are the ideal times to get your flu vaccine, its still recommended to get it later than that if you were unable to do so earlier. If youre unsure when flu season begins in your area, talk to your local pharmacist or healthcare provider.
If youve recently received or will be receiving a COVID-19 vaccine including booster doses you dont have to wait a certain time to get the flu vaccine. You can even get them on the same day, if thats more convenient. These two vaccines arent known to interfere with each other.
Delivery Of The Flu Shot In 2021
Not all flu shots are the same. Some arent even shots. Here are your 2021 flu vaccine options:
Nasal Spray: The nasal spray vaccine is the only kind to include a live attenuated influenza vaccine. Although it cant give you the flu, it does have a higher likelihood of inducing flu-like symptoms. This vaccine does not contain thimerosal or other preservatives. Its available only for patients aged 2 to 49.
For: People who cant stand the needle or jet spray or who want to avoid preservatives.
Inactivated shots are usually given with a needle, but Afluria Quadrivalent can be given to adults with a jet injector, which is basically a high-powered spray that penetrates the skin.
For: Needles can be used for everyone aged 6 months and older. The jet spray is approved for adults aged 18 to 64.
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Headache And Other Aches And Pains
After your shot, you might have headaches or some achiness and pain in the muscles throughout your body. This also usually happens on the first day and goes away within two days. Taking pain relievers can help ease your discomfort.
Its controversial whether its safe to take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to treat these vaccine side effects.
Some research suggests that these medications might change or decrease how your body responds to the vaccine. One study involving children found that taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen didnt reduce the bodys response to the flu vaccine.
Other research is mixed. Its still unclear whether these medications should be avoided.