With literally millions of people taking flu shots every year, there seems to be a large variety of results:
- Some people say they get sick when they get a flu shot.
- Others say it feels like they get the flu when they get a flu shot.
- Some say there is no change when they get the flu shot.
- Even more say they get different reactions each year with the flu shot.
There are also a number of theories out there about what the flu shot can and can’t do and what are the ingredients. We figured it’s about time we get down to the truth.
How is the flu shot created?
According to the World Health Organization, they take a look at 141 labs around the world to determine which variants are most likely to circulate each year. Since it can take more than six months to manufacture the shot, the WHO picks four strains about nine months before flu season: two A viruses (which can infect humans and animals, like swine flu) and two B viruses (which primarily affect humans).
So when you actually go get a flu vaccine, you have two options:
- Inactivated influenza vaccines that contain flu viruses that have been killed, so they can’t cause the flu.
- Live influenza vaccine (LAIV or FluMist) nasal sprays that contain a live but weakened form of the virus.
What do they put in a flu shot?
Manufacturers grow the flu viruses in fertilized chicken eggs—hundreds of millions every year. According to Wired.com, scientists inject the viruses into the allantoic fluid between the embryo and the shell, where the viruses replicate.
Then the fluid goes for a spin in a centrifuge, along with layers of sucrose solutions of different concentrations to separate the denser virus from the rest of the egg proteins. Trace amounts of egg can remain in the final shot.
For people who are allergic to eggs, there is now another flu vaccine called Flucelvax that is grown in animal cells instead of eggs.
Flucelvax is made from kidney cells from a dog that is grown in a laboratory — specifically, the Madin-Darby canine kidney epithelial cells (MDCK) that came from a female Cocker Spaniel in 1958.
Formaldehyde is a chemical compound made of hydrogen, oxygen and carbon. All life forms – bacteria, plants, fish, animals and humans – naturally produce formaldehyde as part of cell metabolism.
Without formaldehyde, this vaccine would just be infectious flu in a bottle. This water-soluble molecule crosslinks proteins in the virus so it can’t cause illness.
Your shot can include up to 100 micrograms of formaldehyde, but your blood naturally contains 13,000 mcg—that extra 0.8 percent barely registers.
This emulsifier prevents sauces and salad dressings from separating. In vaccines, polysorbate 80 keeps all the ingredients evenly distributed.
Polysorbate 80 has been known to have some adverse side effects and has been linked to infertility.
As the flu virus replicates, it steals some fatty membrane from the egg to hold its proteins and