Do travel vaccinations and associated medications contain gluten?

Steve Plogsted, a pharmacist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, is an expert on gluten in medications. His website, glutenfreedrugs.com, is widely recognized as the most reliable source of information on gluten-free prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Have a question about gluten and medications? Send it to [email protected].

 

Q: I am going overseas shortly and need a couple of vaccinations along with certain oral medications. I have celiac and am concerned that one or more of these medications could contain gluten. I have prescriptions for doxycycline, ciprofloxacin and Atovaquone/Proguanil, and also need the hepatitis A and yellow fever vaccinations.

A: First of all, the immunizations—and, in fact, all injectable medications—are gluten free, so there are no issues there. Be aware that the yellow fever vaccine is relatively painful, although the pain doesn’t last for very long. There are at least five companies who manufacture the Atovaquone/Proguanil product: GlaxoSmithKline, Glenmark, BluePoint, Prasco and Mylan. All five are safe and, depending on the strength or manufacturer, may either be starch free or contain some potato starch. There are numerous manufacturers of ciprofloxacin, and all are safe. Most of them contain either corn or potato starch or both; however, a few contain no starches. Quite a few companies manufacture doxycycline, in either tablet or capsule form, and, with one exception, all are safe for you, with some totally starch free and others possibly containing corn and/or potato starch. I suggest you avoid Doryx capsules, which contain wheat starch. The tablets, however, contain only corn starch, so those aren’t an issue.

For more of Steve Plogsted’s advice and information on gluten-free medications, read these past Q&As:

To read resident dietitian Amy Keller’s advice on following and thriving on the gluten-free diet, check out these Q&As:

 

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