Tragically, vaccines can sometimes become contaminated with substances that can get kids sick.
In addition to the Cutter Incident, in which live polio virus contaminated the inactivated polio vaccines, problems with contaminated vaccines include:
- two children in Chiapas, Mexico who died after getting vaccines that were contaminated with bacteria
- hepatitis-contaminated yellow fever vaccines during WWII
- tetanus contaminated smallpox vaccine in the 1890s and early 20th century
Other findings of contamination have not led to any problems, such as:
- SV40 in the original polio vaccines
- Porcine circovirus in rotavirus vaccines
- Hib vaccine – 2007 – concerns over possible contamination with B. cereus bacteria. At least 1.2 million doses of vaccine were recalled as a precaution, but there was never any evidence that any kids became infected.
Still, that has not stopped some from scaring many people about the idea of contaminated vaccines – from misinformation about glyphospate in vaccines to conspiracy theories of a polio vaccine cancer cover up and hidden ingredients that contaminate vaccines.
Worries about contamination should certainly not keep you from vaccinating your kids though.
The most recent episode, in Chiapas, was because of local conditions in a remote village in Mexico. It had nothing to do with how the vaccine was produced.
In 2007, it is reported that “routine testing identified B. cereus in the vaccine manufacturing process equipment, but not in individual vaccine lots.” Although the vaccines were quickly recalled, no one got sick.
Other cases, like when tetanus or hepatitis contaminated some vaccines, while tragic, was long before the latest safeguard from the FDA were put in place.
Vaccines are very safe from contamination.