Are the Flu Vaccines Gluten-free?
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Oct 23 2009

Are the Flu Vaccines Gluten-free?

Though we can’t answer medical questions on this website, we want to discuss this particular issue, because the subject has been debated all over the internet of late. Plus, one of several readers who asked us about this actually works in the health care industry and can’t find help on the subject. Many people are reporting that if one has an auto-immune (which celiac disease is), one should wait for the N1H1 shot, as opposed to the nasal spray vaccine.

I determined that the above statement that is being spread everywhere warranted further research so I contacted two medical professionals, with extensive knowledge about celiac disease, for their take on the issue.

Dr. Peter Green, Director of  the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University and author of Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic had this to say:

People with celiac disease do not have a compromised immune system.  Their immune system is over active. The only increased risk is for pneumococcal infection due to compromised splenic immune function, hence recommendations for pneumovax vaccinations every 5 years.  Recommendations for flu vaccinations should be along the same guidelines as the general population.

Dr. Stephen Wangen of the Center for Food Allergies and author of Healthier Without Wheat also shared his thoughts on the subject with me –

Most people forget that celiac disease is an autoimmune condition. However, if you are avoiding gluten then in most cases the autoimmune condition has essentially resolved itself. Therefore you are no longer suffering from an autoimmune condition even though we still define these people as having celiac disease. So I would think that this is not a concern for people with celiac disease.

The CDC representative I contacted regarding the gluten-free status of the vaccines referred my query to the FDA. The FDA representative was not able to confirm the vaccines were gluten-free – or that they were not. They instead referred me to two pages on their websites and included instructions on how to find the information I was looking for. To say this is odd is an understatement. Why can’t someone just state whether or not these vaccines are gluten-free?

Information from the FDA’s Office of Public Affairs:

Here is the FDA page that lists all ingredients in all of the H1N1 vaccines, which you can view here.

For the list of ingredients you would need to do a bit more digging, starting here.

  1. Scroll down to Approved Influenza Vaccines.
  2. Select each manufacturer in turn.
  3. Under Product Information, select Package Insert.
  4. Under Package Insert, scroll to the section called Description.

As an example, for the first listed manufacturer, CSL, the ingredients are listed under Description beginning on page 8, at line 221.

Many millions of people are following a gluten-free diet in the U.S. for health reasons, though not all of them have celiac disease. Based on the coverage on the nightly news, the government is clearly determined that we all get these vaccines. Therefore, it is in the best interest of the government to tell us if the vaccines contain gluten or not, instead of making us read labels to try and figure it out for ourselves – period!

UPDATE: According to the Executive Director of the Canadian
Celiac Association, both Health Canada and the manufacturer
have confirmed that the H1N1 Vaccine is Gluten-Free. Thanks to Shelley Case for posting this information to the celiac listserv. It’s kind of pathetic no one in the U.S. government would confirm this for us.  

Have a question about the gluten-free diet which we haven’t covered yet?  You can now submit your questions here! (Note: All medical questions should be directed to your physician)

Article Written by:

Tiffany is considered a gluten-free advocate as well as the most discriminating gluten-free diner around. Her goal is to help others learn that there is life after a celiac diagnosis. Gluten-free dining and travel are two of her favorite things to do. Tiffany is a contributing writer and the Advertising Manager at "Delight gluten free" magazine. Check out her local blog, Gluten-Free Atlanta, for tips and tricks about living gluten-free in the ATL! Follow Tiffany on Twitter!

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Comments

  1. Michael says:

    The CDC will likely re-direct you or totally outright mis-direct you, as they are more concerned if not totally concerned with the greater goal of the “general” public’s health #1. Gluten-intolerence who bothers only 1 out of 100 people, so it isn’t even a minute concern.They’re motivated by a Government mandate to vaccinate if not totally over vaccinate it’s citizens from the flu as well as other diseases both currently a threat as well as century old ones. They WILL NOT give anyone a platform to question thier 100% inocculation/vaccination mandates,…the only people they MAY suggest should refrain from flu-vaccinations are those people who currently are sick with the flu. As a matter of fact they’re still dealing with Jenny McCarthy’s claims that vaccinations cause “Autism” in otherwise, healthy children. They’re not likely to worry much about our itty bitty problems, to the point of telling us out-right that vaccines contain anything harmful.

  2. sherry says:

    i had the flu shot and a tetnis shot a week ago. I’ve been the sickest i’ve been in along time were i cant work!Never been so sick since being diagnosed 4 yrs ago!

    • Jenn says:

      I too had a flu vaccine in October, the first one in many, many years. I became extremely ill starting 48 hours after the vaccine. At first the doctor thought that I might have Guillane Barre syndrome, but symptoms would get worse, then better. I was out of work for 5 weeks due to this. My blood pressure was low and I could not function. MS was thrown out there too… but MRI was negative. After starting a GF diet… my symptoms stopped! I have been GF since! Occasionally, I will eat something that may have cross contamination… Hate it!

      I do believe the flu shot may be a problem for those who do not know they have a gluten problem… or already are dealing with inflammation for another source.

      • MaryBeth says:

        I was told I had fibromyalgia. LMBO!!! I guess I suddenly developed it within 48 hours of the flu vaccine. I also went on a GF diet but took 8 months to recover. I was never evaluated for Guillane Barre but looking back, I was also told the flu vaccine was not making anyone ill. I could not swallow, chest pain, pain throughout my body, gained 25 pounds because I could not work out, chronic fatigue, etc…Today, I am healthy again, but still get leg pain and some fatigue, but nothing like previously.

    • MaryBeth says:

      I had the same flu vaccine about the same time, and was sick for over 8 months, totally understand.

  3. Paige says:

    Okay so I am a nursing student and “have to” recieve a flu vaccine to perform clinical in the hospital. I honestly was not concerned about the flu shot containing gluten. I recieved the shot and in about 48 hours I was super sick with muscle aches, IBS flare up, and sharp pain in the back and pelvic region. It has now been 4 days and i’m still extremely sick. COULD the flu shot possibly have gluten products??

  4. Jill Hampleman says:

    I have celiac disease and recently was given the new Monia vaccine which gave up quite the a reaction also some weakness in my left leg.

  5. Aleka Munroe says:

    I am a consultant with 18 years experience with Celiac Disease and bowel surgeries. I am founder of our local support group. I rarely get “glutenized” because I am so careful. While I can’t confirm or deny gluten in flu vaccine, I have looked at the information and found nothing to raise an eyebrow at. I have received every flu vaccine for the last 18 years, as well as pnuemovax and HepC with absolutely no symptoms of gluten or any other difficulty.

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