Free Influenza Vaccine Expiring Soon : Should You Take It?

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Antivaxxers are criticising a hospital for offering free influenza vaccine, claiming that they are expiring soon and made from dog cells.

Find out what is going on, and whether the influenza vaccine is made from dog cells, and if you should take influenza vaccine that is expiring soon!


Free Influenza Vaccine?

The controversy started when Thomson Hospital Kota Damansara started offering free influenza vaccinations as a CSR initiative.

From 20 June to 27 June 2020, they would offer a free influenza vaccine for up to 200 patients a day.

Thomson Hospital free influenza vaccine 2020


Free Influenza Vaccine, But Expiring Soon?

Dr. Mohamed Al-Hadi posted excitedly about the CSR initiative in his Facebook post yesterday. As he pointed out – this is a rare opportunity to receive a free influenza vaccine.

But antivaxxers noticed that in the picture shared by Dr. Mohamed Al-Hadi, the syringes had an expiry date of 27 June 2020.

Thomson Hospital Mohamed Al-hadi post combined

One person specifically posted this warning with the screenshots above, highlighting the expiry date (with our English translation below) :

Patut la free.
Seminggu lagi nak expired.
Marhaen kena tipu.
Dah la guna sel anjing..dan aku x rasa yg Islam2 gi cucuk tu diberitahu kandungan dia buat drpd apa.
Tadah je katakan…
Gila la pendokong WHO ni.
Dah la bangsat pi suntik org vaksin yg nak expired, haram utk org Islam dan nak out of season, pi tayang lak gambar expiry date…mmg kena bahan la…ya Allah..bila la nak cerdik bila buat jahat geng2 ni???!!!

No wonder it’s free
Just one week before it expires.
We commoners are getting cheated.
Bad enough it uses dog cells.. and I doubt Muslims who were given this injection were told what it was made of.
Just ignore it… free they say…
This WHO supporter is crazy.
Bad enough this bastard injects expiring vaccine, it is haram for Muslims and about to be out of season, go look at the picture of the expiry date
You really need to know the ingredients… Oh God… how to be smart against the evils of these gangs???!!!


Free Influenza Vaccine Expiring Soon : Should You Take It?

Now, let’s look into the claims above and see what the facts are regarding this free influenza vaccine CSR initiative by Thomson Hospital Kota Damansara…

Fact #1 : Those Are SKYCellflu Quadrivalent Vaccines

Assuming that the picture shared shows the exact vaccine Thomson Hospital is giving away for free, it is the SKYCellflu Quadrivalent influenza vaccine from South Korea.

As a quadrivalent vaccine, it offers protection against the four influenza viruses most likely to cause illness in the current season.

Free Influenza Vaccine Expiring Soon : Should You Take It?

Fact #2 : SKYCellflu 2020 Vaccines In Malaysia All “Expire” On 27 June

According to the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency of Malaysia, all 15,000 doses of SKYCellflu Quadrivalent vaccines imported into Malaysia in February 2020 will expire on 27 June 2020.

That expiry date is not based on when the vaccine was manufactured, but when the WHO predicts that a new formulation may be needed (see Fact #3).

Fact #3 : Expiration Date Has A Different Meaning In Influenza Vaccines

Influenza vaccines are not food products. Their expiration date is not an indication of when they are about to go “bad”.

Rather, their expiration date tells doctors when they should use a different vaccine formulation, for better protection against the constantly mutating viruses and changing virus circulation.

As long as the influenza vaccine administered has not reached its expiration date – it is the formulation that offers the best protection you can get for that flu season.

SKYCellflu Quadrivalent 2020 expiry date

Fact #4 : Expired Influenza Vaccines Still Work

When influenza vaccines reach their expiration date, they don’t stop working. They are just presumed to be less effective, as the circulating viruses may have changed.

As the CDC notes, “Vaccination with an expired influenza vaccine might not protect against influenza infection because different influenza virus strains can be included in the vaccine each year; in addition, protection against viruses included in the vaccine could wane if vaccine potency decreases over time“.

The fact is – even an expired influenza vaccine will offer better protection than no influenza vaccine at all.

Fact #5 : Those Are Perfectly Good Influenza Vaccines

Those SKYCellflu Quadrivalent vaccines Thomson Hospital is giving away are perfectly good influenza vaccines as long as they are used by 26 June 2020.

Yes, they are giving away something that they can no longer administer or sell from 27 June 2020 onwards, but that doesn’t mean that they are cheating anyone.

They are giving away perfectly good vaccines that cost them money. Is there harm in letting them gain some publicity to cover those losses?

Fact #6 : SKYCellflu Quadrivalent Vaccines Are Not Made From Dog Cells

The SKYCellflu Quadrivalent influenza vaccine is not made from dog cells. Rather, the influenza viruses are GROWN in MDCK (Madin-Darby Canine Kidney) cells.

After they are grown, the viruses are then harvested and purified before being inactivated. No dog cells of any kind are present in the vaccine.

Using MDCK cells provides these advantages over using fertilised chicken eggs :

  • faster vaccine manufacturing
  • no egg allergy risk
  • no egg-adapted changes, allowing for better immune response by the body

Whether such a vaccine is acceptable for religious or moral reasons, we will leave it to every individual to decide.

Fact #6 : Thomson Hospital Staff + Doctors Received Them Too

Dr. Mohamed Al-Hadi also pointed out that Thomson Hospital gave their staff and doctors first priority, administering their flu vaccines on the very first day.

Do you think they would risk the health of their staff and doctors if they did not believe the flu vaccine was safe and effective?


COVID-19 : Please Keep Safe!

If you ask us, what we are more concerned about is the long queue. If you are planning to take up this free influenza vaccine offer, please make sure you :

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