How Do I Explain the Flu Shot to My Employees?
Summer is quickly coming to an end, bringing on the cooler weather of autumn. But, with those lower temperatures also comes the dreaded flu season.
Anybody who works in an office knows the effect that flu season can have on business. At the peak of the season, the virus makes it’s way all throughout the company.
Some employees are too sick to work, opting to spend a day or two in bed while they recover. Others will instead continue working, despite battling the virus. Although devoted and hard-working, these flu-ridden office workers can only make things worse. A stray cough or sneeze, even a face-to-face conversation can spread the virus to various co-workers.
But, what can an employer do to prevent this from happening?
The best way to control the virus during flu season is to avoid it altogether. While there are many ways to keep the office flu-free, the easiest and most reliable is the flu shot.
But, many myths and misconceptions about the vaccine have spread in recent years. Employees might have questions about the safety of the flu shot and whether it actually helps. Luckily, you can assure anyone worried about the shot that it won’t make them sick with the disease or give them a deadly amount of mercury.
What the flu shot will do, is focus on and prevent spreading the various types of influenza every year.
What Ingredients Are In the Flu Vaccine?
This year’s common quadrivalent flu shot contains the following ingredients:
- Flu Strain A/(Michigan) (H1N1)
- Flu Strain A/(Singapore) (H3N2)
- Flu Strain B/(Colorado)
- Flu Strain B/(Phuket)
- Aluminum Salts
- Chicken Egg Proteins
Why Does the Flu Shot Contain Formaldehyde?
Formaldehyde is the reason for a myth that you can get sick from a flu shot. Like other immunizations, a flu shot does contain the virus that it’s preventing.
That’s where formaldehyde comes in. The compound deactivates the virus and prevents the toxins from getting you sick.
In very large doses, formaldehyde is toxic and deadly. But, for a human to receive a lethal amount of formaldehyde from a flu shot, they would need to take over 10 million doses in a day. This is because the molecule becomes diluted during the manufacturing process. Only a tiny amount of formaldehyde is present in each flu shot.
Why Are There Aluminum Salts In the Flu Vaccine?
Aluminum is another common component to every vaccine. The compound is an adjuvant that creates better protection against the disease within the body. Adjuvants also help keep you from getting sick with the disease after vaccination. For more than 80 years, aluminum has been the most used adjuvant in immunizations.
Much like the other ingredients in a flu shot, the amount of aluminum in the vaccine is incredibly small. The amount is so small that you could find more in drinking water.
Why Does the Flu Shot Need Gelatin?
Gelatin serves a simple purpose in a flu shot: keep the vaccine effective between manufacturing and use.
This ingredient may be an issue for people who are opposed to consumption of animal products. Most flu shots us a pig-based collagen as the stabilizer, so anyone with a pork allergy should also speak to a doctor before being vaccinated.
But, most people already eat this kind of gelatin on a regular basis. Sweets like marshmallows and candy both use the same amount of pig-based gelatin that you can find in a flu shot.
Why Is Thimerosal Part of the Flu Shot?
Thimerosal isn’t in all flu vaccines, but is still quite common. The compound prevents fungi and bacteria from growing in the flu shot. This dangerous development can happen when a syringe is in a vial.
Thimerosal does have an ethylmercury base. That may sound dangerous, but this is not the same kind of mercury that can make you ill in large doses. Methylmercury is the mercury that you find in seafood. This kind of mercury can stay in the body for years at a time. Ethylmercury is in the blood for much less time, often just a few days, and is safe for vaccines.
Do you still have some questions about the safety of thimerosal in vaccines? Check out our blog post that breaks down the chemical and its long history with vaccines.
Why Are There Chicken Egg Proteins In Flu Vaccines?
The virus needs somewhere to develop before it’s ready for the flu shot, and that’s where eggs can help.
The flu virus copies itself while in fertilized chicken eggs for most shots. It’s then separated from the egg and is ready for vaccination.
Sometimes egg protein can remain in the virus after the development is over. This could be another problem for those who don’t want to consume animal products.
Although, people with an allergy to eggs should be safe, after recent studies tested possible dangers. Make sure to note your condition to a medical professional before you receive the flu shot. Multiple egg-free flu vaccines are currently available for anyone who doesn’t want to be exposed to the protein.
Why Are Antibiotics Needed For The Flu Shot?
So far, all the ingredients in the flu shot better protect you from the virus. Antibiotics serve the same purpose in a flu vaccine.
The eggs used to develop the virus are not sterile. Antibiotics prevent bacteria from getting into or growing in the eggs. To avoid allergic reactions, ones that can cause severe reactions, like penicillin, are not used. Neomycin is instead used for the vaccines. You’ll often find this antibiotic in everyday products like ointments and lotion.
Still unsure if the ingredients in a flu shot are safe for the human body? Give us a call at to speak to a travel health nurse, or book an appointment online now.
Passport Health does offer on-site flu clinics for any companies that want to better prevent the virus this flu season.