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H1N1 (Swine Flu) and Allergies, Asthma

H1N1 (Swine Flu) Vaccine Ingredients

Q. What are the ingredients of the H1N1 vaccine and adjuvant?
The H1N1 vaccine Arepanrix has been developed by GlaxoSmithKline using the egg-based production method. This means the vaccine viruses are grown in eggs. This is true for the regular flu shot as well.

The manufacturer states the level of ovalbumin (egg protein) in the adjuvanted vaccine is generally below 5-10 ng/mL. The ovalbumin level is not yet available for the unadjuvanted version of the vaccine, which will be offered to pregnant women. (For egg and other allergy concerns, be sure to read: H1N1 and Food Allergies.)

The vaccine has two components that are mixed together before the vaccine is given. The primary substance is the antigen drug substance for immunizing. It is administered with an adjuvant known as AS03.

The antigen contains: thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative used in the manufacturing of multidose vaccines, sodium chloride, disodium hydrogen phosphate, potassium dihydrogen phosphate, potassium chloride and water. As mentioned, there are traces of egg protein, and also of formaldehyde, sodium deoxycholate and sucrose.

The adjuvant AS03 is composed of: DL-alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E), squalene (shark liver oil) and polysorbate 80 (an emulsifier). In addition, its vial contains: sodium chloride, disodium hydrogen phosphate, potassium dihydrogen phosphate, potassium chloride and water. (For fish, soy allergy concerns, see H1N1 and Food Allergies.)

Read Health Canada’s Arepanrix product leaflet details.
Read Allergists’ Position statement – on egg allergy.

Anti-viral Drug Ingredients

A doctor may prescribe an anti-viral medication for two reasons: first, if you have the flu, to reduce your symptoms; and second, as a “prophylaxis”, which means, to reduce the likelihood that you will contract the virus. (This would likely be to stop the spread of the flu in a setting such as a hospital.)

Q. What are the ingredients of anti-viral Relenza?

Medicinal Ingredient:
• Zanamivir

Non-medicinal Ingredient:
• Lactose (contains milk protein)

Read the Relenza product monograph.

Q. What are the ingredients of Tamiflu?


Medicinal Ingredient:

• Oseltamivir phosphate

Non-medicinal Ingredients:

• Corn starch
• Croscarmellose sodium
• Povidone K30
• Sodium Stearyl fumarate
• Talc
• Gelatin
• Titanium dioxide
• FD&C blue No. 2
• One more of: Red iron oxide, Yellow iron oxide, Black iron oxide

Oral Suspension (for young children or people who cannot swallow a capsule)

Medicinal Ingredient:

• Oseltamivir phosphate

Non-medicinal Ingredients:

• Monosodium citrate
• Saccharin sodium
• Sodium benzoate
• Sorbitol
• Titanium dioxide
• Tuttifrutti flavouring
• Xanthan gum

Read the Tamiflu product monograph

Related Reading


• H1N1 media call with experts, organized by The Lung Association of Canada.
• Websites linked above.
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
• E-mail interviews with Dr. Wade Watson and Dr. Michael Cyr.

Allergic Living Disclaimer:
This information is designed as a public service and is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a medical doctor/specialsit. AGW Publishing Inc. (publisher of Allergic Living) disclaims any warranty arising from this document and will not be held liable for damages arising from reliance on the content contained herein.

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