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.
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.
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.
- Scroll down to Approved Influenza Vaccines.
- Select each manufacturer in turn.
- Under Product Information, select Package Insert.
- 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)