View Full Version : What is preservative-free flu vaccines?

09-27-2006, 02:52 PM
I just called the Ped office today to check on the flu vaccines status. The nurse told me that they have received the perservative-free flu shots for kids 6 months to 35 months. At first I was relieved to know they have it so my DD can get hers this week and just hope they will have enough supply in a month since she didn't get two shots last year. But my son cann't get one till the regular vaccine comes in since he's older than 35 months.

What's the difference? Does anyone know? Is one better than other? Now, say if DD gets her preservative-free first shot now, and then they only have the regular one, would that be okay to take?

I guess I should call the ped office again. Does anyone have any experience with this stuff?


09-27-2006, 02:56 PM
there are lots of mommas on here who know a lot about vaccines...i have limited knowledge but here's my basic understanding.

there was a concern that one of the preservatives they were using in vaccines was linked to autism. though i'm not sure if that's ever been flat out proven, i know that it lead to many mommies asking for preservative free vaccines. that is probably why your ped's nurse mentioned the distinction. i would go ahead and get it!

someone more knowledgable will probably come along, but i don't think it's anything to worry about..and i wanted you to know right away!

09-27-2006, 03:13 PM
I'm guessing preservative free means thimerisol free

09-27-2006, 03:38 PM
My understanding is that the only difference is the presence or absence of a minute amount of thimerosol, which is a preservative. Some parents prefer thimerosol-free vax's, so in order to make it "more appealing" to those parents to actually vax their children, a thimerosol-free version of the flu vax is available. Here it is called Vaxigrip. Not sure if the same brand name is used in the US. Generally, here (Canada), children between 6-23m and PG women are offered Vaxigrip. Other people generally get the regular flu vax.

FWIW, I understood that children only need 2 flu shots the very first time they get the flu vax. I'd ask if your DD needs a 2nd one this year, she may not.




09-27-2006, 03:43 PM
DD only got one last year as well. By the time for her second shot, the ped's office ran out of vaccines.

At her 15 months checkup two weeks ago, the doctor told us to get her first shot early next month so she should be able to get her second shot in November.

Keep our fingers crossed.

09-27-2006, 03:46 PM
She still should only need one this year. Don't let them overdose her!!


Here is the package insert information (flu vaccine label):

"If a child aged <9 years receiving
vaccine for the first time does not receive a second dose of vaccine within the same season, only 1 dose of vaccine should be
administered the following season (see TABLE 3)."

From here - page 3, about 2/3 of the way down:


09-27-2006, 04:54 PM
Thimerosal is the preservative they are talking about. It is 50% mercury by weight, which is the concern since mercury is a neurotoxin. Whether or not you view that as a problem is a whole 'nother issue ;)

I think it is relatively hard to get your hands on a thimerosal-free shot for children under 4, easier for adults. Several of the licensed products available are thimerosal free, but I know that non-thimerosal free versions are still routinely given out, and in kids under 4 they are very likely to get the multidose version that contains the full dose of thimerosal. Quite a few of the thimerosal free versions are not licensed for kids under 4.

IMO Read the package insert and verify with your own eyes which version your child is being given. If the packaging says 0.01 percent thimerosal, that is 25 micrograms of mercury per 0.5mL dose, which is NOT thimerosal free, so be aware (it looks like a small amount when you see the 0.01%, but it isn't...that's a full dose of thimerosal/mercury). Just something to watch out for in advance.

I hope that made sense. I have a toddler on my lap ;)

In case anyone wants to cross check what product their child is receiving (if you are doing a flu shot), here's a list of manufacturers, the ages the product is licensed for use with, and the thimerosal amount. The multidose vial of Fluzone is still quite common in kids under 4, and that's the one that still contains a lot of thimerosal. There are single dose vials available, but from what I understand, they can be hard to come by.

09-27-2006, 04:56 PM
actually, at least in the US, the version of the flu vax (Fluzone, I believe) that contains a full dose of thimerosal is still routinely given out. Most other vaxes now only contain "trace" amounts, however, the flu vax is one left that often still contains a full dose of thimerosal.

There are thimerosal free versions but they are difficult to come by for kids under 4 in most cases.

09-27-2006, 05:30 PM
I haven't looked into it for this year because I'm not planning to get DD the flu vax, but last year the only pharmaceutical company that made a flu vax without thimerosal as a preservative during any part of the manufacturing process and was approved for pediatric use was made by Sanofi Pasteur. You can ask your ped's office if this is the kind they have.

09-27-2006, 09:30 PM
After reading this thread, I think I have to call my Ped's office tomorrow. I think the receptionist this morning told me that the preservative-free shots are only for kids 6 months to 35 months. So does that mean my son (39 months) can only get the regular (w/ preservative) flu shot?

Are you all having your toddler taking the flu shot this year? I'm so confused. I just thought the flu shot is one of those must have shot every season.


09-27-2006, 10:26 PM
Beth, you're such a great resource for that stuff. :) I'm sure you gave that link (or a similar one) out last season, and I'm glad you're giving it out again as a reminder.

09-27-2006, 10:27 PM
I would not get a flu shot for my child that contained preservatives. I would insist on a preservative free shot for your older child, too.

09-28-2006, 01:34 AM
Im assuming that the preservative they are refering too is thimersol. I think that it is great they have finally come out w/ a thimersol free flu vaccine.

IMO I would get the preservative free for sure. If my ped offered that I would get DS the flu shot but sine they do not I would rather have him not get the shot.