A mother’s only concern – are preservative-free vaccines safer?
Every lady is not a doctor but becomes one as soon as she conceives. There is so much data available on the internet today. All one needs to do is research well. When I delivered my baby girl, a whole new set of concerns and questions crossed my mind. Gradually, I picked up one topic at a time and studied it. Though I had read the whole pregnancy book and learnt about all the changes happening in my body during this period, this was another chapter in my motherhood journey. As the baby arrives, vaccines for the baby start. This was a complex subject for me. I was not a science student so I had to research a lot more and troubled my doctor too. My only concern was are preservative-free vaccines safer?
I found out that vaccines are important and should be given on time. This is what I had been listening to all this while. Now, the new concern was choosing between preservative-free vaccines, single-dose vials, multi-dose vials, thimerosal and quadrivalent flu vaccines. All these terms were alien to me. It took me time to understand each one of them and come to a decision as to what’s good for my daughter. Let’s start with simple terms to understand
Thimerosal in vaccines
- Thimerosal – Thimerosal is a mercury-based preservative that prevents the growth of bacteria, fungus, or other microorganisms that might contaminate the flu vaccine. It is used in multi-dose vials of the flu vaccine for delivery to multiple people. (i)
- Thimerosal is a preservative that keeps the vaccine free from contamination by bacteria and fungi. Without this, the growth of bacteria and fungi is common when a syringe is in a multi-dose vial (a vial that contains more than one dose). (ii)
- Thimerosal is made of an organic form of mercury known as ethyl mercury, a safe compound that usually only stays in the blood for a few days. It is different from the standard mercury that can cause illness in large doses, and from the mercury found in seafood (called methylmercury), which can stay in the body for years. Flu shots will only contain thimerosal when they are in a multi-dose vial. Single-dose vials, pre-filled syringes, and nasal sprays do not need to include this preservative because contamination is not an issue. (ii)
Antibodies that provide protection develop in the body about 2 weeks after vaccination. You may be exposed to a flu virus shortly before getting vaccinated or during the period that it takes the body to gain protection after getting vaccinated. This exposure may result in you becoming ill with flu before the vaccine begins to protect you. (iii)
So I understood that the vaccination had to be done on time.
Are preservative-free vaccines safe?
But my major concern was still unanswered. I was confused as to whether this preservative-free vaccine was safe to use on my baby? So I had to study some more and talk to my doctor. I was relieved to know that preservative-free vaccines are not only completely safe, but also very convenient to use.
Actually, information is available on the internet in plenty but it’s important to get it right and consult your doctor. I did the same and was satisfied to a large extent.
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