Why does gluten sometimes come up in discussions about vaccines?
Is it because a vaccine to treat people with Celiac disease is being tested?
It is more likely that it is because some people worry that vaccines contain gluten.
Which Vaccines Are Gluten-Free?
So which vaccines are gluten-free?
Fortunately, they all are, so you don’t have to worry about skipping or delaying your child’s vaccines if they have Celiac disease, a gluten sensitivity, or if you are simply following a gluten-free diet.
There actually are some, including eggs, milk, gelatin, and yeast.
Talk to your pediatrician or a pediatric allergist if you are concerned about vaccine allergies. They can review the “Algorithm for treatment of patients with hypersensitivity reactions after vaccines,” which “provides a rational and organized approach for the evaluation and treatment of patients with suspected hypersensitivity.”
This is especially important if you think that your child is allergic to all vaccines, something that is almost unheard of, as vaccines have different components and are made in different ways.
You don’t have to worry about gluten though.
What To Know About Vaccines and Gluten
There is no gluten in vaccines and vaccines are actually in development to treat people with gluten sensitivity.
“Dry, natural rubber is used in the tip of syringe plungers, the tip on prefilled syringes, vial stoppers,” and could cause a problem for some people with latex allergies.
According to the CDC:
If a person reports a severe (anaphylactic) allergy to latex, vaccines supplied in vials or syringes that contain natural rubber latex should not be administered unless the benefit of vaccination clearly outweighs the risk for a potential allergic reaction. In these cases, providers should be prepared to treat patients who are having an allergic reaction.
For latex allergies other than anaphylactic allergies (e.g., a history of contact allergy to latex gloves), vaccines supplied in vials or syringes that contain dry, natural rubber or natural rubber latex may be administered.
Many vaccines use synthetic rubber or synthetic latex though, so getting vaccinated with one of these vaccines would be a good alternative if your child has a severe allergy to latex.
Keep in mind that you aren’t supposed to simply remove the latex stopper from a vaccine vial to try and avoid triggering an anaphylactic reaction. That did work for one patient in the case report “Anaphylaxis after hepatitis B vaccination.” She got her second dose using “rubber free technique” and didn’t have a reaction.
Still, latex allergies with vaccines doesn’t seem to be a big problem.
One study “Vaccination of persons allergic to latex: a review of safety data in the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS),” in the journal Vaccine “revealed only 28 cases of possible immediate-type hypersensitivity reactions in vaccine recipients with a history of allergy to latex.” And only two of those required hospitalization.
Many vaccines come in prefilled syringes or ready to use multi-dose vials.
Others are freeze dried and need to reconstituted or mixed with a specific diluent, such as sterile water.
Those that use a diluent include:
ActHib and TriHIBit (Hib)
Menveo and Menomune (Meningococcal)
Imovax and RabAvert (rabies)
YF-VAX (yellow fever)
In addition to sterile water, vaccine diluents can include sodium chloride, distilled water, and vaccine antigens.
The use of diluents can lead to errors when administering vaccines, from using the wrong diluent, using a drug instead of a diluent, to giving a diluent instead of a vaccine.
That’s what happened when 15 children in Syria died after being vaccinated with MMR. The drug Atracurium was used instead of the diluent for the MMR vaccine.
And that’s why people who give vaccines are taught to “Check the vial label three times to be sure you have chosen the correct vaccine product (and diluent, when applicable). Check the expiration date of the vaccine (and diluent) before using to be sure they are not out of date.”
Yes, a few vaccines may contain trace amounts of yeast proteins.
Those vaccines are actually made in baker’s yeast (the growth medium), kind of like other vaccines are grown in cell cultures, etc. And although most of the yeast proteins are removed as the vaccine antigens are removed and purified, some residual yeast proteins remain in the vaccine.