Are There Antibiotics In The Flu Vaccine (2019-2020 Season)?

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses which antibiotics are contained in the flu vaccine for the 2019-2020 season.

Nov 05, 2019

Marie asked

I have never had the flu shot and was considering it until I read that there are antibiotics in the vaccine. I am allergic to penicillin, Keflex (cephalexin), Cipro (ciprofloxacin) and possibly Biaxin (clarithroymcin). Would these medications, or medications in their line, be in the flu vaccine at all? Thank you.

At a glance

  • Some flu vaccine products contain antibiotics (e.g. neomycin, gentamicin) while others do not.
  • Flucelvax Quadrivalent, FluLaval Quadrivalent, Fluzone Quadrivalent, Fluzone High Dose and Flublok Quadrivalent flu vaccines do not contain any antibiotics.
  • No flu vaccine contains penicillin, ciprofloxacin, cephalexin or clarithromycin. If you have an allergy to any of these antibiotics, you can still safely get the flu shot.


Flu Vaccine With On Table With Syringe

Hello and thank you for taking the time to reach out to us!

Whether or not a particular vaccine contains antibiotics is a common question we get. In fact, not too long ago, we answered a similar question about the shingles vaccine (for the record, Shingrix does not contain antibiotics while the other shingles vaccine, Zostavax, does).

As it concerns the flu vaccine, it is important to remember that there isn't just one single flu vaccine product, but many.

For the 2019-2020 season, the following flu vaccines are available on the market:

  • Afluria Quadrivalent
  • Fluarix Quadrivalent
  • Flucelvax Quadrivalent
  • FluLaval Quadrivalent
  • Fluzone Quadrivalent
  • Fluad
  • Fluzone High-Dose
  • Flublok Quadrivalent
  • FluMist Quadrivalent

Since there is more than one flu vaccine, we must consider all of them when answering the question of whether or not 'the flu shot' contains antibiotics.

When discussing flu vaccine ingredients, complicating matter, many of the flu vaccines listed above come in multiple forms.

Flucelvax Quadrivalent for example, is available as a multi-dose vial and a pre-filled syringe. The multi-dose vial contains a preservative while the pre-filled syringe does not.

What I'm essentially trying to illustrate here is that there are many different flu vaccine products, each with their own unique list of ingredients.

Getting into the specifics of your question, many flu vaccine products do contain antibiotics, but they are not the commonly used ones.

I'll list the antibiotic components of the 2019-2020 flu vaccine products in the next section, but the only antibiotics that are potentially contained in flu vaccines (not all products, just some) are:

Again, these antibiotics are not in all flu vaccines, just some products.

The question of antibiotics in flu vaccines has actually been covered fairly extensively by the Immunization Action Coalition, which is supported by the Centers for Disease Control.

In their 'Ask The Experts' section, they published the following Q+A:

  1. Flucelvax Quadrivalent Prescribing Information.Seqirus
  2. Ask The
  3. Fluarix Quadrivalent Prescribing Information. GSK
  4. Afluria Quadrivalent Prescribing Information. FDA
  5. FluLaval Quadrivalent Prescribing Information. GSK
  6. Fluzone Quadrivalent Prescribing Information. FDA
  7. Fluad Prescribing Information. FDA
  8. Fluzone High Dose Prescribing Information. FDA
  9. Flublok Quadrivalent Prescribing Information. FDA
  10. Flumist Quadrivalent Prescribing Information. AstraZeneca

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