Common Concerns About the Flu Vaccine

  • Occupational Health routinely uses vaccine that is latex free and thimerosal free.

  • Vaccination is the safer option!

    • 1 in a million - Risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome after an influenza VACCINE
    • 17 in a million - Risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome after an influenza INFECTION

    Kwong JC , Vasa PP , Campitelli MA, et al. Risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome after seasonal influenza vaccination and influenza health-care encounters: a self-controlled study. Lancet lnfect Dis. 2013 Sep; 13(9):769-76

  • Allergy to the vaccine is the only absolute medical contraindication to flu vaccine.

    Talk with your health care provider about your concerns. Chances are it's OK to take a flu shot. In fact, your condition may increase your risk for flu complications, so vaccination could be even more important for you.

  • Did you know that most religions allow, and even encourage, vaccination as a way to take care of your health?

    Talk with a trusted religious leader about your concerns. You may find that taking a vaccine to prevent disease is consistent with your faith after all.

    For detailed information on specific religions and their positions on vaccines, visit our Immunizations and Religion page.

  • Influenza vaccines do contain trace amounts of formaldehyde. Formaldehyde occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables. Common, nutritious foods contain more formaldehyde than a flu shot does.

    One pear has 8.2 mg, one potato has 4.4 mg, and the flu shot has 0.1 mg of formaldehyde.

  • Since VUMC doesn’t offer the Flumist anyone for adult population, could we delete this sentence ? or say: current the flu vaccines offered by OHC doesn’t contains gelatin. I think we can delete that first sentence and say:  The flu vaccines offered by OHC do not contain gelatin.  FluMist, available elsewhere, does contain gelatin…and then keep the interesting info below that.

    For observant Muslims: More than one hundred Islamic legal scholars met to clarify Islamic purity laws for the World Health Organization. The issue of pork gelatin in vaccines and medication was debated. The scholars determined that the transformation of pork products into gelatin alters them sufficiently to make it permissible for observant Muslims to receive vaccines containing pork gelatin. Read the full report.

    For observant Jews: Rabbi Abraham Adler, speaking for the Kashrus and Medicines Information Service, stated "It should be noted that according to Jewish laws, there is no problem with porcine or other animal derived ingredients in non-oral products. This includes vaccines, injections, suppositories, creams and ointments."

    Read more.

  • Want natural immunity? Vaccination works naturally, by stimulating your body's natural immune system, so you're equipped to fend off infection without drugs.

    The only other way to get natural immunity is to get sick with the flu.

    While you're developing immunity from infection, you're not only miserable, you're contagious.

    Spreading the flu to others is nothing to sneeze at.

  • There are no dog cells in the influenza vaccine.

    In the 1960s, the Madin-Darby Canine Kidney (MDCK) cell line was established using cells from a dog kidney biopsy. Since then, the cells have been grown in culture and have been used extensively in medical research.

    No dogs have been used since the original kidney biopsy in the 1960s!

    Some new flu vaccines might be developed using this cell line in the future, but none of the influenza vaccines in current use in the U. S. were made using MDCK cells.

  • The egg-free flu vaccine is created WITHOUT using chicken eggs. This egg-free flu vaccine is available at the Occupational Health Clinic or at Flulapalooza event.

  • Fetal cells have NEVER been used to make influenza vaccine.

    Some formulations of hepatitis A, poliovirus, rabies, rubella , and varicella-zoster vaccines have been made using WI-38 or MRC-5 cell cultures. These cell lines were made possible due to 2 abortions performed in t he 1960s (V\/1-38 was cultured in 1961 in Sweden and MRC-5 was cultured in England in 1966.) The abortions we re not performed for the purpose of harvesting these cells, and no additional abortions are needed to sustain vaccine
    manufacture . The rubella vaccine is made using a strain of the rubella virus called RA 27 / 3 which was isolated in 1964 from an aborted fetus with rubella infection.

    Teams of ethicists at the National Catholic Bioethics Center have studied this issue in depth since the 1990s. These religious ethicists concluded that the use of these vaccines is ethical. Use of a vaccine in the present does not involve sharing in the action of those who carried out the past abortion. Since there is no ongoing harvest of fetal tissue for the purpose of making vaccines, the use of these vaccines has been determined to be acceptable for Catholics in the absence of alternative vaccines.

    Learn more on this topic at

    • Latex
      • We provide latex-free vaccine.
      • People with latex allergy can safely take this vaccine.
      • Tell the nurse you have a latex allergy.
    • Thimerosal
      • We provide thimerosal-free vaccine.
      • People with thimerosal allergy can safely take this vaccine.
      • Tell the nurse you have a thimerosal allergy.
    • Flu Vaccine
      • It is extremely rare to be allergic to the flu vaccine itself.
      • Check with your doctor to be sure your reaction was not due to latex, egg, or something else.
      • If you have a true vaccine allergy, do not take the flu vaccine.
  • Think you're too healthy for a flu shot?

    Think again.

    The H1N1 virus that first appeared in 2009 is still the most common strain of flu virus around. It has caused severe disease, and even death, in young, healthy people - especially those who are not vaccinated.

    Fortunately, the vaccine provides protection from this strain.

    It's your life - isn't it worth a shot?

  • Pregnant women who take the flu vaccine have better pregnancy outcomes!

    • 50% reduction in fetal death.
    • Reduced risk of low birth weight.
    • Babies born to vaccinated moms get sick less often.

    Vanderbilt's OB/GYN department endorses and recommends flu vaccine for their pregnant patients. The CDC and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology have recommended flu vaccine in pregnancy for over 50 years!


  • You might not have contact with patients, you have contact with any of these?

    • Doorknobs
    • Babies
    • Elevator buttons
    • Shopping carts
    • Elderly people

    The flu virus can live on surfaces for up to 8 hours. You can pick up the virus anywhere, and share it with your family, friends, and coworkers before you begin to feel sick.

    There's not enough hand sanitizer in the world. Take a flu shot.

  • The vaccine is your best defense against influenza. Isn't it worth a shot?

    Taking The Flu Shot

    • Most people experience:
      • Sore Arm (mild)
    • Some people experience:
      • Low Grade Fever
      • Mild Aches
    • Flu vaccine has been extensively tested and has an excellent safety record for the past 30+ years, over millions of doses given.

    Catching Influenza

    • Most people experience:
      • Fever
      • Chills
      • Cough
      • Body
      • Aches
      • Fatigue
      • Headache
      • Sore Throat
      • Runny Nose
    • Some people experience:
      • Pneumonia
      • Death
  • Four influenza strains are selected each year for the vaccine to target. In some years, one of the vaccine strains may not completely match a virus strain in the community.

    Most of the time the selected strains do match well with the circulating virus. Even if the match is not perfect there is likely some protection. For instance, you may have milder symptoms Than you would have had without vaccination.

    Different influenza strains circulate each season, so even if the vaccine doesn't match one strain, it could still match to the others.

  • Influenza vaccine cannot give you the flu. Here are the main reasons people can get sick despite taking the vaccine.

    • Two weeks – It takes two weeks for immunity to develop after vaccination. During those two weeks, you are not protected yet.
    • Four strains – Influenza vaccine protects against the four most common and serious strains of influenza. There are many other viruses that can make people sick.
    • Sixty percent risk reduction – Influenza vaccine lowers your risk of flu by about 60%. You could still get the flu, but you are less likely to have complications or die.
  • It's really important that you are concerned about spreading infections to your close contact.

    This is a major reason why vaccination is recommended — so that we don't become infected with influenza and spread virus to others who may not be able to get the same protection from the vaccine.

    The influenza shot cannot cause an infection, so you are not contagious after vaccination.

  • Here's the skinny on flu vaccine effectiveness: In healthy working adults, vaccination reduces your chances of catching influenza by 60%. But that's not all. Vaccination reduces complications of flu, like pneumonia and death. You can take your chances with influenza, but that's like dancing on the edge of a cliff. If something goes wrong, it's a long way down. Move back from the edge. Get a flu shot.

  • It's important to stay home when you have an influenza-like illness, but you can actually spread influenza virus for up to 24 hours BEFORE you have any symptoms.

    Also, some people don't get the classic "flu-like illness" when infected. Even with very minimal symptoms, like a runny nose - or no symptoms at all - you can still spread virus to others.