No, the flu jab does not contain harmful ingredients that will kill you

By: Siri Christiansen
December 12 2023

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No, the flu jab does not contain harmful ingredients that will kill you

Source: Facebook/Modified by Logically Facts


The Verdict False

Some vaccines do contain mercury and formaldehyde, but not in harmful quantities, and there is no data suggesting the flu vaccine will lead to death.

Claim ID 21a7be89

What is the claim?

A Facebook post is encouraging people not to take the flu jab because it contains ingredients such as mercury, squalene MF59, ethanol, and formaldehyde, which produce serious side effects, including blood and lymphatic disorders, nervous system disorders, psychiatric disorders, and death.

The post also claims that no vaccine has been tested on pregnant people.

However, the post contains multiple factual inaccuracies.

Screenshot of the image shared on Facebook.

In fact

Speaking on the viral list of ingredients, Professor Sir Andrew J Pollard, Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group Ashall Professor of Infection and Immunity, told Logically Facts, "There are multiple influenza vaccines but to my knowledge, this is not a correct set of ingredients. The closest match is the Seqirus product but the content of the vaccine doesn’t match."

Logically Facts examined the ingredients of the six different flu vaccines from five manufacturers available in the U.K. this year - and found only a few of the ingredients listed in the Facebook post. Not all of the vaccines contained these ingredients.

Formaldehyde “may be present in very small amounts” in the Quadrivalent influenza vaccine, for example. However, while most people may know formaldehyde as a cancer-causing chemical used in building materials, it is actually an organic compound present in the human body and in fruit. One pear contains 8.2mg of formaldehyde – the flu shot, in comparison, contains 0.1mg, according to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. It is used to kill viruses or inactive toxins during the manufacturing process.

Similarly, the Adjuvanted Quadrivalent influenza vaccine made by Seqirus contains squalene and 1.175 mg of polysorbate 80 as part of the adjuvant MF59C.1.  Neither squalene nor polysorbate 80 is harmful to humans. 

Squalene is a naturally occurring organic compound commonly derived from shark liver oil. In 2009, Wired reported that some have suggested that the Gulf War Syndrome was caused by squalene added to the anthrax vaccine given to military personnel, but this claim is baseless as there was no squalene present in the vaccine.

Polysorbate 80 is an emulsifier commonly used in food and drinks, and while some studies have found that polysorbate 80 injections into newborn rats can cause ovarian damage, the European Medicines Agency has deemed the health risk to be “very low.”

It should also be noted that while vaccines can contain traces of some of the ingredients listed in the Facebook post, there is extensive information available online showing that the quantities used are safe for human consumption. 

Some vaccines, for example, do contain a mercury-based compound called thimerosal to prevent bacterial and fungal contamination – however, the quantities are very small and no studies have documented any adverse effects. Similarly, while several vaccines do propagate the influenza virus antigens in hens’ eggs, this does not pose a health issue even to people with an egg allergy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, studies show that severe allergic reactions are unlikely. 

There are also egg-free vaccines: for the 2023 flu season, this includes a recombinant quadrivalent vaccine made by Sanofi Pasteur and a cell-based quadrivalent made by Seqirus. Additionally, a majority of the side effects listed in the Facebook post are not common side effects of the flu vaccine. 

According to the Vaccine Knowledge project, very common side effects of the flu vaccine include a runny or stuffy nose, loss of appetite, feeling generally unwell, and headaches. Common side effects, which affect up to 1 in 10 people, include fever and muscle aches. Uncommon side effects, which affect up to 1 in 100 people, include rashes, allergic reactions, and nose bleeds, although the latter is unlikely to be caused by the vaccine itself. 

The risk of a severe allergic reaction is very small; in the U.K., there were 130 reports of anaphylaxis out of 117 million doses of vaccines during the period between 1997 and 2003, and none of these cases resulted in death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention add that some studies suggest there is “a possible small association” between the flu vaccine and Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), but this risk is fewer than 1-2 cases per one million people. GBS is also more common as a complication of the flu, than of the flu vaccine.

There is no data suggesting the flu jab can result in death – unlike the flu itself, which causes 400,000 deaths per year according to Our World In Data. Similarly, studies have shown that the flu vaccine is safe to take during any stage of pregnancy, according to the NHS. The flu, on the other hand, increases the risk of complications during pregnancy and can lead to premature births, stillbirth, or death.

The verdict

Ingredients found in vaccines do not pose a threat to human health, and vaccines do not produce side effects such as nervous system disorders and death. The vaccine has also been tested on pregnant people. Given the amount of factually inaccurate information in this claim, we have marked it as false.

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