Mercury-Free Flu Shot Options

The CDC recommends annual flu shots for all persons aged six months and older. Here are some flu shot options, including mercury-free flu shot options.

mercury-free flu shot

A mercury-free flu shot can help you from getting sick over the winter.

While you may think that most naturopathic doctors are anti-vaccine, the truth is that many licensed NDs do recommend and/or administer vaccinations such as flu shots. As medical students, we learn all about vaccinations and their many benefits, and administer them in our teaching clinics.

I get a flu shot from a local pharmacy every year. I do this because I would rather not suffer through the flu myself, and because I want to help protect my friends, family, and those who are most vulnerable to the deadly effects of the flu. Those individuals include babies, young children, the old, and people with serious chronic health conditions.

The Dangers of Flu Virus

It is all too easy to dismiss the flu as little more than a more severe cold, but statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) underline just how dangerous it can be. In an online report published December 9, 2016, the CDC estimated that flu-related hospitalization in the United States ranged from a low of 140,000 each year to a high of 710,000 during the 2014-2015 flu season.

It isn’t easy to estimate how many people actually die from flu and its complications, because not all states report this information. However, the CDC estimates that from 2010-2011 to 2013-2014, flu-related deaths ranged from about 12,000 up to 56,000 during 2012-2013.

It is clear, then, that protecting against the flu won’t just benefit your health and well-being—it will benefit the health and well-being of many Americans. But what do you do if you would rather avoid vaccines that contain mercury? That’s one big obstacle for lots of people, including me. So I take the precaution of making sure that the flu vaccine I get each year does not contain mercury, since I’d rather not be injecting this toxic heavy metal, even in minute amounts, into my body.

The CDC recommends annual flu shots for all persons aged six months and older. And if you do decide to get yourself and/or your children vaccinated, you also have a choice as to whether your flu shot contains mercury.

What Is Thimerosal?


Here’s how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains thimerosal:

“Thimerosal is a mercury-based preservative that has been used for decades in the United States in multi-dose vials (vials containing more than one dose) of medicines and vaccines.

“There is no evidence of harm caused by the low doses of thimerosal in vaccines, except for minor reactions like redness and swelling at the injection site. However, in July 1999, the Public Health Service agencies, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and vaccine manufacturers agreed that thimerosal should be reduced or eliminated in vaccines as a precautionary measure.”

Previously, many flu vaccines contained thimerosal,[1] a preservative that is 49.55 percent mercury by weight.[2] Thimerosal in a flu vaccine rapidly breaks apart into ethyl-mercury compounds that have an affinity to bind to other compounds inside in the body.[2] This results in increased body and brain inorganic mercury concentrations, possibly increasing the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders in children and neurotoxicity in adults.[2-5]

The use of thimerosal flu vaccines has been largely eliminated over the past decade in the United States, but the inactivated influenza vaccine still uses it in multi-dose vials that require a preservative.

These flu vaccines are currently available for the 2017-2018 flu season (in case you’re wondering, quadrivalent vaccines protect against four strains of influenza, while trivalent vaccines protect against three):

Mercury-Free Flu Shot: Thimerosal-Free Vaccines

These vaccines do not contain thimerosal:

  • Afluria Trivalent, by Seqirus; 0.5 mL single-dose prefilled syringe; age range 9+ years
  • Fluad Trivalent, by Seqirus; 0.5 mL single-dose prefilled syringe; age range 65+ years
  • Fluzone High-Dose Trivalent, by Sanofi Pasteur; 0.5 mL single-dose prefilled needle-less syringe; age range 65+ years
  • Fluzone Quadrivalent Pediatric, by Sanofi Pasteur; 0.25 mL single-dose prefilled syringe; age range 6-36 months
  • Fluzone Quadrivalent, by Sanofi Pasteur; 0.5 mL single-dose prefilled syringe, and 0.5 mL single-dose vial; age range 36+ months
  • Fluarix Quadrivalent, by GlaxoSmithKline; 0.5 mL single-dose prefilled syringe; age range 3+ years
  • Flucelvax Quadrivalent, by Seqirus; 0.5mL single-dose prefilled syringe; age range 4+ years</li
  • Afluria Quadrivalent, by Seqirus; 0.5 mL single-dose prefilled syringe; age range 18+ years
  • Fluzone Intradermal Quadrivalent, by Sanofi Pasteur; 0.1 mL single-dose pre-filled micro-injection system; age range 18 to 64 years


There’s a question that no doubt occurs to anyone who’s hit with flu virus symptoms. The duration of symptoms varies, but typically can last for three to five days in people who are otherwise well, writes Leonaura Rhodes, MD, of University Health News, but can also extend a few days longer, sometimes more, especially in the elderly or chronically sick.

There are strategies we can employ to shorten the length of symptoms; most are common-sense tactics, but worth reviewing. See Dr. Rhodes’ post by clicking here.

Mercury in Flu Shots: Vaccines That Contain Thimerosal

These vaccines do contain thimerosal:

  • Fluvirin Trivalent, by Seqirus; 0.5 mL single-dose prefilled syringe; age range 4+ years
  • Fluvirin Trivalent, by Seqirus; 5.0 mL multi-dose vial; age range 4+ years
  • Afluria Trivalent, by Seqirus; 5.0 mL multidose vial; age range 9+ years
  • FluLaval Quadrivalent, by GlaxoSmithKline; 5.0 mL multidose vial; age range 6+ months
  • Fluzone Quadrivalent, by Sanofi Pasteur; 5.0 mL multidose vial; age range 6+ months
  • Afluria Quadrivalent, by Seqirus; 5.0 mL multidose vial; age range 18+ years

Have You Had a Mercury-Free Flu Shot? Share Your Experience

What is your own practice when it comes to getting the flu shot each year? Have you sought out mercury-free flu shot options, and are they readily available? What are your thoughts on flu shot options? Share your opinion on flu shots and mercury in flu shots with our community of readers in the Comments section below.

[1] CDC. Influenza vaccines — United States, 2014–15 influenza season.
[2] Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health. 2014;11(9):9156-9170.
[3] Transl Neurodegener. 2013; 2: 25.
[4] Curr Med Chem. 2013;20(32):4060-9.
[5] J Appl Toxicol. 2013 Aug;33(8):700-11.

Originally published in 2014, this post was revised in September 2017 by Kate Brophy, Executive Editor of Focus on Healthy Aging, and is regularly updated by the editors of University Health News.

As a service to our readers, University Health News offers a vast archive of free digital content. Please note the date published or last update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

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Kathleen Jade, ND

Dr. Kathleen Jade is a naturopathic physician and served for many years as the Medical Director and Editor-In-Chief of Natural Health Advisory Institute. She has been licensed as a primary … Read More

View all posts by Kathleen Jade, ND

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  • I know several people this past season and last years flu season who got shots, and later on got the flu. I do not take the shot, as it is not effective.

  • It depends on which strain of flu they got. It is effective for the usual flu that year, problem is there are so many varieties of the virus.

  • I live in Houston, TX. For the past three years Target told me they had mercury-free flu vaccine. CVS and Walgreens told me they didn’t have it. Kroger and Walmart told me they didn’t know if theirs contained mercury or not.

  • Is the Mercury replaced with something else? Aluminum? (which is another issue). Years before vaccinations, doctors use to prescribe Olive Leaf which is a natural anti-viral. It kills all viruses in the body without causing side effects – unless ,of course, a person is allergic to olives. It comes in a capsule, or a liquid with a dropper. I prefer capsule. There are other ‘natural’ anti-virals. The only problem might be with very young children – but the way that babies are now loaded with shots in one dose is another travesty. They need to go back to giving less at one time, over a longer period of time. Some infants have been hospitalized because of the amount given them at one time. Why are doctors even allowing this? Don’t they have anything to say about what their patients receive?

  • Here’s an update from my previous comment. Target pharmacies are now run by CVS and all their vaccines are mercury free, they said. HEB said their stock contains mercury. Walgreens said their stock contains mercury but they will special order mercury-free for you. The Kroger pharmacist said she didn’t know. The Walmart pharmacist said, “I don’t know but we use the same stuff HEB uses.”

  • The dirt is already out on this years Flu Vaccine-
    It doesn’t work – just like pretty much every other year. Why would anyone inject the aluminum etc that they KNOW settles in the brain and is an Alzheimer & Parkinson risk?? Pretty stupid given the long standing evidence of the ineffectiveness & now known to be dangerous.,amp.html

  • FLU

    The FLU vaccine –
    Has NEVER been evidence based.

    Studies here and abroad continue to find that the flu vaccine is not only dangerous ( leads the pack for vaccine death & injury Comp paid) , but it is also ineffective and

    One is WORSE off with annual Flu Vax.

    Recently, Canada’s CDC convened a meeting with 40 scientists from around the world to “discuss the troubling findings”

    Recommended Kids flu vaccine ( Flu Mist) removed from the market for 2016/17 after CDC reported it was
    ZERO effective last 3 YEARS.

    She died from the SAME strain she was vaccinated for.
    The recommended Flu Vax for kids ( Live Virus Flu Mist) was REMOVED from the market after being reported ZERO effective 3 YEARS in a ROW.

  • I have been very prone to respiratory infections since started getting the flu shot, approx 6-8 weeks after. Dealing with one now which mimics flu.
    Considering not getting shot next year . Connection?

  • Can one call one’s doctor/clinic and special request a mercury/thimerisol free shot? I’m slightly afraid of their response

  • Every Year from the late 70s until the early 2000s I would be out for one week with the flu. I was always in bed for a week with a high fever. Then, I started taking the flu shot about 15 years ago. I have not had the flu since. It works for me…

  • The flu shot can be effective even if you get the flu, Laura. You still may have antibodies and it could be less severe. That’s exactly what happened to my disabled child when she got swine flu in 2009. Please educate yourself before you make such statements. We did preservative-free vaccines and so far so good this season.

  • P.s. we got our shots at Walgreens and the pediatrician’s office in October and all were available with preservative-free with no issues.

  • Dr. Jade, thank you for the useful information. But is your credential MD or doctors of naturopathic medicine? Your own website represents yourself as a doctor of naturopathic medicine, but I see you are a state licensed MD also?

  • I am from Western Australia. I had written up a very informative letter and lost it before I could press submit comment. For brilliant informative data on vaccinations google del bigtree the truth behind vaccinations and google del bigtree US Govt loses vaccine lawsuit. I am for SAFE VACCINES. That would mean no mercury, no aluminium. They are neurotoxins vey different effects when ingested to when injected.

  • I am required to have a flu shot for work.

    I, and my family have sought a mercury free vaccine, low dose, single injection. They have been readily availlable.

    I resent having to get one to work. The protection is nil, the toxins are unacceptable and the CDC is without credibility.

  • Linda C, I also share in your resentment of having to get the flu vaccine for work. I work in healthcare as a tech, and if I don’t get the vaccine I would be terminated. It makes me furious feeling forced to do something I’m not comfortable with. Had I known this was the case, I would have gone into a different field/career. One day I’d like to find a job that doesn’t require it, but right now that it out of the question. I guess the safest alternative is finding the low dose thimerosal free option, and perhaps doing a heavy metal detox to flush out the toxins of the vaccines as best as possible (search: heavy metal detox protocol.)

  • Same here Jen. I just got my RN and 2 times during school I had to get the flu shot never had the flu before and I’m 56 I got severely I’ll both times now I have to do it again!!!

  • I am still concerned about the other possible toxins being injected into ones body. I have read studies that have found fecal matter and other organic toxins in flu vaccines. I’ll avoid them for now, trusting in my own body to fight off infection, while getting future immunity with the exposure.

  • I am a RN & am required to get a flu shot a flu shot to work or wear a mask during flu season even though I’m not sick. I asked the Employee Health RN for a mercury/thimerosal free shot & she said it was & gave me the shot. Afterward I read the package insert & it contained thimerosal. So ask to see insert before you get shot.

  • Ignorance is assuming your right … how dare you call someone ignorant for expressing their circumstance … not everyone believes what the Government puts out … good luck with the brianwashing

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