PharmEcology® Provides Disposal Guidelines for the 2013-2014 Flu Vaccines

    [released October 15, 2013]

    As a public service to the healthcare community, every year Waste Management publishes an analysis of the proper disposal guidelines for the current year's seasonal flu vaccines. This year's trivalent flu vaccines provide immunization for the A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like virus, A/Victoria/361/2011 (H3N2)-like virus, and B/Massachusetts/2/2012-like virus. Quadrivalent vaccines will include an additional vaccine virus strain, a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus. The following table provides disposal information. For a summary of this information, including the NDC codes for the specific products, see the table below. For information about disposing of last year's flu vaccines, please refer to our news alert PharmEcology® Provides Disposal Guidelines for the 2012 - 2013 Flu Vaccines.

    An expanded discussion of the vaccines including the rationale for waste categorization follows the table. Additional details about the criteria outlined below are available to subscribers to the PharmE® Waste Wizard® and the PharmE® Inventory Analysis.

    If you have any additional questions about disposal of the any vaccines or if you have any questions about managing your pharmaceutical waste, please contact us at, call us at 877-247-7430, or visit our web site at

    Disposal Guidance Seasonal Flu Vaccines (2013-2014)

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    Several new, recently licensed vaccines will be available for the 2013-14 season and are acceptable alternatives to other licensed vaccines indicated for their respective age groups. These vaccines include the following:

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    In addition to producing 5 mL multidose vials of the Fluvirin® seasonal flu vaccine, Novartis also produces single-dose prefilled 0.5 mL syringes of the vaccine. Although this vaccine is preservative free, thimerosal is used during the manufacturing process. While most of the thimerosal is removed by subsequent purification steps, the final vaccine may contain a trace amount of mercury, less than or equal to 1 mcg per 0.5 mL dose. This amount exceeds the federal threshold noted above and, as a result, the Novartis single-dose formulation should be disposed of as federally hazardous waste. Novartis also produces Flucelvax®, a single-dose prefilled syringe that contains no thimerosal and can be disposed as non-hazardous pharmaceutical waste.

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    Generally, prefilled vaccines are supplied in needleless syringes. However, in the rare instances that it is necessary to dispose of a full or partially used sharp syringe containing a vaccine with thimerosal, the sharp should be disposed of as dual hazardous and biohazardous waste.

    Also note that in all cases other than live attenuated viruses, empty syringes and vials are non-hazardous and can be disposed of in either a red sharps container, for sharps, or in the landfill, for vials. The intranasal spray for FluMist® should be discarded in a red sharps container as a biohazardous waste.

    [1] Information regarding the composition of the vaccines is excerpted from the FDA's website at