Kristina Duda, BSN, RN, CPN, has actually been functioning in healthcare because 2002. She specialization in pediatrics and condition and infection prevention." data-inline-tooltip="true">Kristina Duda, RN

Kristina Duda, BSN, RN, CPN, has been working in healthcare since 2002. She specializes in pediatrics and condition and infection prevention.

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Anju Goel, MD, MPH, is a board-certified medical professional who specialization in publicly health, communicable disease, diabetes, and health policy." data-inline-tooltip="true">Anju Goel, MD, MPH

Anju Goel, MD, MPH, is a board-certified medical professional who specialization in windy health, communicable disease, diabetes, and also health policy.

A preservative-free flu vaccine is a kind of flu vaccine that does not contain the antiseptic and also antifungal agent known as thimerosal. The mercury-based link is included to part vaccines to stop the development of bacteria, fungus, or other microorganisms that could contaminate a vial as soon as a needle is inserted.

Some people seek the end preservative-free vaccines since they have heard the vaccine preventive may cause autism, a insurance claim that studies have repeatedly shown has no relationship whatsoever to any type of vaccine or vaccine ingredient.

This encompass thimerosal. The side effects of flu vaccines containing thimerosal are ultimately the exact same as those that space preservative-free.


Verywell / Cindy Chung

history and conflict

Thimerosal is provided in multi-dose vials of the flu vaccine for delivery to multiple people. This helps ensure the purity the the vaccine native one person to the next.

Prior come the development of thimerosal, over there were instances where a multi-dose vial was contaminated v bacteria between uses, bring about illness and also even death. Preservatives became a necessity for multi-dose vaccines in 1968, back they were in usage well prior to then.

Despite the proven safety of thimerosal in multi-dose vaccines, over there were numerous who remained unconvinced.

In 1998, the safety of vaccines was actors into more doubt once a group of researchers in good Britain released a study arguing that the measles, mumps, and also rubella (MMR) vaccine caused children to develop autism.

Although the examine was released in among the leading clinical journals, The Lancet, it soon attracted the ire of scientists who listed numerous flaws in the study model. By 2010, The Lancet issued a full retraction the the article and also its findings.

Nevertheless, the study set off a firestorm the misperceptions that led numerous parents to abandon vaccines, and the preservatives perceived to it is in harmful, altogether.

As a result of the "public"s perception of risk" of thimerosal, as explained by the civilization Health company (WHO), thimerosal to be discontinued for use in most multi-dose vaccines in 2001. All other single-dose vials in the United states are preservative-free.

To date, there has actually been no evidence that thimerosal deserve to or has ever before caused autism in children. Follow to the Centers for an illness Control and also Prevention (CDC), "the number of children diagnosed v autism has not unable to do down since thimerosal was removed from vaccines."

security and possible Side effects

The CDC, U.S. Food and Drug management (FDA), national Institutes of health and wellness (NIH), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Advisory Committee ~ above Immunization methods (ACIP), and also National Academy that Sciences" academy of medicine (IOM) have all asserted that the use of thimerosal in vaccines is safe and also effective.

The security profile the traditional and preservative-free flu vaccines are considered equal. possible side effects of both thimerosal-containing vaccines and also preservative-free vaccines include:

However, if you build wheezing, challenge breathing, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, ns of consciousness, or swollen lips, tongue, or throat, contact 911 or walk to her nearest emergency room. These could be the signs of a rare and also potentially life-threatening allergic reaction recognized as anaphylaxis.


According come the CDC, you should acquire your flu shot (whether timeless or preservative-free) prior to the finish of October. Children under 9 receiving the vaccine for the an initial time would need a 2nd shot 4 weeks after ~ the first.

Approximately 85% that the vaccine supply created for the 2019 to 2020 flu season was thimerosal-free.

The preservative-free formulations contain the same four strains of eliminated influenza virus as other injectable quadrivalent flu vaccines. Preservative-free flu vaccines are additionally delivered at the very same time and in the same dose together the traditional flu vaccines.

Children younger than 6 monthsPeople with severe, life-threatening allergies to the flu vaccine or any ingredient in the vaccine


Unless flu vaccination is contraindicated for you, there is no safety-related reason to avoid acquiring a classic flu vaccine.

With that said, if you would like to stop thimerosal, asking your healthcare provider if they have actually a preservative-free flu vaccine available. Alternatively, you deserve to ask your medical care provider if FluMist sleep spray vaccine is an alternative for you.

While the FluMist vaccine is preservative-free, it consists of a live dilute virus and should no be offered in world with a compromised immune system, kids under 2, adult 50 and also over, pregnant women, and people with a severe, life-threatening reaction come flu vaccines or any of their ingredients.

Be conscious that most clinics and also pharmacies will certainly only have one or two varieties of vaccine top top hand (typically the traditional multi-dose vial and FluMist). A one-of-a-kind order would need to be placed for you if girlfriend would prefer something different.

Because it takes 2 weeks for the human body to develop enough defensive antibodies, the vaccination have to be done early on in the season to protect against infection.

A Word indigenous Verywell

Although over there is no evidence that thimerosal causes harm when offered in vaccines, there space other options to select from if you"d rather stop it.

Ultimately, what"s most vital is that you gain vaccinated versus the flu, especially if you are at high risk for flu-related complications. And, despite what some world might phone call you, the flu vaccine go not cause the flu.

Looking to avoid gaining the flu? Our free guide has everything you need to stay healthy this season. Sign up and also get yours today.

Verywell health uses just high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Review our editorial procedure to learn much more about just how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and also trustworthy.

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Verywell Health"s contents is because that informational and also educational functions only. Ours website is not intended to it is in a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.