New Vegan Flu Vaccine arrives in UK

The time of the traditional, egg based flu vaccine may be coming to an end, with new, more ethical alternatives available.

How is the Egg Based Vaccine Made?

Diagram of egg vaccine process. By Mouagip, in public domain

In the UK, flu vaccines up until this year were all made with eggs. The process uses fertilised chicken eggs at 11-12 days old – a chick would usually hatch at 21 days [1][2].

The egg is injected with the various virus strains specified by the World Health Organisation as being a threat that particular year. Then, it is left to develop for another 48 hours, incubated (and presumably the chick continues to grow). Over the 48 hours the virus is weakened or destroyed by the egg.

Then, the egg white, the albumen, is harvested and purified. It takes 3 chicken eggs for each vaccine. [3]

Should I have this eggy-vaccine?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. I have always said no, even though I am eligible because I have asthma. However, last year, I was so seriously ill with flu for so long that I said I would have it this year. I also put some effort into sorting out my asthma (review, new inhalers, dehumidifier and air purifier in the house etc) so the chance of me needing the vaccine was minimised.

I know others who have made the same decision, and others who have rejected it regardless. It doesn’t have to be the same choice every year, remember. If you are pregnant, or the primary earner in your family, or have a serious health problem – why to have it this year, and re-asses next time.

Thankfully, from this year, it’s going to be easier to get a vegan version of the vaccine! Read on for more info!

A Vegan Version?!

By Timisstuck - CC BY-SA 4.0
Madin-Darby Canine Kidney cells

There is another way of making vaccines though, using mammalian cells. In this case it’s the cells from a dog’s liver. But don’t worry, no dogs are harmed or killed in this process – liver cells divide easily. The Manufacturer of the new, more ethical vaccine said:

“Flucelvax Tetra is manufactured using influenza virus grown in Madin Darby Canine Kidney (MDCK) cells rather than embryonated hens’ eggs. MDCK cells are a continuous, laboratory maintained, cell line. Continuous cell lines originate from a natural tissue source, but have adapted to grow and divide “unendingly” under laboratory conditions and so have unlimited availability.”

Indeed this cell line has been alive since the cells were first taken from a spaniel in 1958! [4] It’s not clear what happened to the original dog, but I don’t believe it would necessarily have been harmed or killed for the extraction of liver cells alone.

About the New Vaccine

The new vegan vaccine is called Flucelvax Tetra. You can read about it’s availability on the NHS here: vaccines-for-19-20-seasonal-flu-vaccination-programme.

My local GP is so far saying it is not available, but I will keep you posted. The pharmacist says it’s possible to order it in, but not till October. You may have to ask repeatedly or make a full. You may have to pay. But this vaccine IS available in all of Europe from this year.

As far as I have been able to find, the vaccine is 100% Vegan in terms of ingredients, however, I am waiting for final clarification on this from the manufacturer about that. It’s not clear if the specific vaccine is tested on animals – I assume it will have been. The general process will also have been tested on animals at some point.

What did you do?

Good luck, and comment/reply to let us know how you got on!!

Updates

My surgery initially said they didn’t provide this vaccine and had never heard of it. I then sent an email [5, text below] which detailed the name of the vaccine and attached a document from the NHS commissioning saying the vaccine is available. I didn’t hear anything for a while, but then they called and said they will be getting these vaccines in around the 14th of October. I finally had the vaccine on the 16th of October. Initially bought out the eggy vaccine not the Vegan one, she had to go back and get the correct one. It really didn’t hurt at all, I didn’t really even feel the needle going in, it hurt a little bit immediately afterwards – but much less than eg a blood test or a paper cut!.


References

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken#Embryology

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Influenza_vaccine#Manufacturing

[3] https://www.healthline.com/health-news/why-we-grow-flu-vaccines-in-chicken-eggs

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madin-Darby_Canine_Kidney_cells#History

[5] Email text:

I appreciate that the nur Continue reading “New Vegan Flu Vaccine arrives in UK”

Beco Ball on a Rope for a Schnoodle – Customer Review

“I recently bought the Beco ball on a rope for my Schnoodle, and he loves it. It feels really well made, and will definitely last him a long time, Thanks Ethical Pets!” – Patrick

You can read more about Beco Pets here or view the range on our website here.

How and Why to Deal with Dog Poop

Why do we pick up dog Poo?

Well, today I read a great infographic from Earth Rated, our new Poop Bag manufacturer. It got me thinking about the reasons why we Brits pick up dog Poo.

Civic Duty

I think f0r most of us, we think more about the awfulness of stepping in dog poo above all else. We don’t want to put someone else though that, so we see poopa-scooping as a civic duty mostly. Part of being a good dog parent for sure.

Continue reading “How and Why to Deal with Dog Poop”

Bamboo-zled: the science sustainable bamboo pet products

According to science, not all bamboo products are more sustainable than their non-bamboo alternatives. Shipping bamboo products over from China has a big environmental impact so the products need to be eco enough to mitigate that. Here’s some science and some bamboo pet products to consider!

Continue reading “Bamboo-zled: the science sustainable bamboo pet products”

Science versus Veganism

One of my favorite podcasts is Science VS, by gimlet media. It’s a science show headed by Wendy Zukerman, who delves into the science of things like vaccines, climate change, essential oils and…. in September this year Veganism!

You can listen to the podcast here.

Here’s what I learned… Continue reading “Science versus Veganism”

10 lessons from science on World Vegan Day

It’s Word Vegan Day! Want to know what would happen if everyone went vegan? Or just 25%? Want to know if it’s actually healthy? Or if Vegans need to engage with anti-poverty campaigns to achieve their goal? Well you are in the right place!

I read a fascinating scientific paper in the Lancet today [1] which models the impact of changes in diet across the whole world, depending on the motivation/specifics. It predicts changes country by country depending on how they farm and eat right now, which is WOW SUPER COOL (and so so nerdy)! Here’s a summary of what they did and 10 lessons I learned.

Continue reading “10 lessons from science on World Vegan Day”

Frightening Fireworks

Do you get stressed? Well, so do your pets – but they communicate it differently. Unlike humans who shop, over eat, drink too much and shout at people when they or stressed (just me then?) dogs and cats have a very different language.

It’s especially important over the Halloween to new-years party period that we keep an eye out for the signs and symptoms of stress and provide support and treatment for out companion animals.

Continue reading “Frightening Fireworks”

How YOU can save the world!

Yesterday we heard the heartbreaking news that restricting climate change to 2.0 degrees, which we weren’t on track to achieve anyway, won’t be good enough to prevent the worst damage. I wrote an article delving into the details.

Here is something more positive: a guide to what YOU can do about climate change, starting right now. Some of the things are really easy!

The short-version is: go vegan, get a veg box, be really rude to people to by air-freighted food, drive less, walk more, switch to good energy, wear jumpers and insulate stuff. All of these things are good for your health and for the health of other people too! Kaboom!

Continue reading “How YOU can save the world!”

North Yorkshire Vegan Fair Harrogate

Another grand day out at a Vegan Fair, today we got to visit Harrogate, Joey’s Birthplace. Here are some of the amazing things we saw.

Vegan Unicorn Cupcakes

Vegan cupcakes with unicorn twist.

What else is there to say. Unicorns. Cupcakes. Vegan. Yay!!

These marvels are made by Scrummy Crumbs vegan bakery.

Continue reading “North Yorkshire Vegan Fair Harrogate”

Blackpool Vegan and Green Fair

We had a wonderful time at Blackpool Vegan & Green Fair today. After an early start and miserable weather, the sun came out and the venue was packed!

There was food and seating downstairs, and a large hall of stalls upstairs. Here are some of our favourite things!

Continue reading “Blackpool Vegan and Green Fair”