Vegans do not eat meat, fish, poultry, etc., and also do not use animal products or their by-products.
So in addition to eating a plant-based diet, like vegetarians, you also don’t eat eggs or cheese, drink milk, or wear leather, etc.
Are Vaccines Vegan?
Since many vaccines contain some ingredients, like gelatin, that are derived from animals, they aren’t considered to be vegan.
Still, since there aren’t many vegan vaccines, it isn’t possible or practical to avoid getting vaccinated, so most vegans do seem to get their families vaccinated and protected against vaccine-preventable diseases.
Although people argue both ways, you should consider that:
many medicines, like Tamiflu, aren’t vegan, so what happens if you get sick with a vaccine-preventable disease?
many of the ingredients in vaccines that aren’t considered to be vegan are removed in final processing and aren’t present in the final vaccine, except in residual amounts
vaccines save lives, both human lives and animal lives
Most people understand that for every virus or bacteria, their can be multiple strains of the same organism that cause disease.
For example, there is flu A and B, swine flu, bird flu, and even dog flu.
In the case of flu, those different strains are a problem, because having immunity to one, doesn’t mean that you will have immunity to others. In fact, usually you won’t, whether it is natural immunity from a previous infection or immunity from a vaccine.
Pains with Strains
Do we have the same issues with other diseases?
We certainly have situations in which vaccines don’t cover all disease strains, including:
Hib – only covers Haemophilus influenzae type b, which causes invasive disease, like meningitis, pneumonia, and sepsis, but not other Haemophilus influenzae strains that can cause ear infections
Polio – originally protected against three serotypes of polio, but monovalent (one strain) and bivalent (two strains) oral poliovirus vaccines have also been available to respond to outbreaks and bOPV is the one used for routine immunization, except in industrialized, polio-free countries that use the IPV shot
Prevnar – now covers 13 strains of Streptococcus pneumonia
Rotavirus – protects against severe disease caused by rotavirus strains that aren’t even in the vaccine
Fortunately, even when a vaccine doesn’t cover all strains, it does cover those that most commonly cause disease.
What about measles?
There are at least 24 different genotypes of measles that come from 8 different clades (A-H), with even more wild type virus strains (based on those genotype).
These genotypes include A (all vaccine strains are genotype A), B2, B3, C1, C2, D2, D3, D4, D5, D6, D7, D8, D9, D10, D11, G2, G3, H1, and H2.
In general, genotypes are restricted to a specific part of the world, such as:
African Region – B2, B3
Eastern Mediterranean Region – B3, D4, D8
European Region – D4, D5, D6
Southeast Asian Region – D4, D5, D8, D9, G2, G3, H1
Western Pacific Region – D5, D9, G3, H1
In countries that have eliminated measles, like the United States, the genotypes that are found will depend on from where the measles strain was imported.
Additionally, five genotypes, B1, D1, E, F, and G1 are now inactive.
Specific strains of measles viruses include the vaccine strains (Edmonston, Moraten, Zagreb, Schwarz, AIK‐C, CAM, Leningrad-16, and Shanghai-191, etc.) plus wild strains, like:
MVi/NewYork.USA/94 – a wild strain of B3 genotype
Johannesburg.SOA/88/1 – a wild strain of D2 genotype
Manchester.UNK/30.94 – a wild strain of D8 genotype
Hunan.CHN/93/7 – a wild strain of H1 genotype
Why so many vaccine strains?
It may come as a surprise to some people, but the whole world doesn’t use the same vaccines. For example, unlike the United States, Japan has used measles vaccines derived from AIK‐C, CAM, and Schwarz strains of the measles virus.
And just how many wild strains of measles are there? It’s hard to know, but consider that a study of 526 suspected measles cases from 15 outbreaks over 3 years in one state of India found at least 38 different strains.
Myths About Measles Strains
Do the measles vaccines cover all of the measles strains that cause outbreaks around the world?
Yes they do, despite the myths you may hear about mutated measles strains.
This came up a lot during the Disneyland measles outbreak, when folks first tried to place blame on a vaccine strain and then on the fact that the outbreak strain didn’t match the vaccine strain.
“…California patients were genotyped; all were measles genotype B3, which has caused a large outbreak recently in the Philippines…”
CDC Measles Outbreak — California, Dec 2014–Feb 2015
And it is coming again in the latest measles outbreak in Minnesota. Could that outbreak be caused by a vaccine strain? Anything is possible, but it’s not. A communication’s director for the Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed that “that the virus strain making people sick in this outbreak is the B3 wild-type virus.”
Of course, none of these outbreaks are started by a vaccine strain of measles shed from someone who was recently vaccinated. It also had nothing to do with the fact that the strains didn’t match – after all we aren’t talking about the flu.
These outbreaks are imported from other countries by folks who typically aren’t vaccinated or are incompletely vaccinated and mostly spread among other people who are unvaccinated.
So what’s the most important thing to understand when considering all of these vaccine strains and wild strains of measles? It is that “there is only 1 serotype for measles, and serum samples from vaccinees neutralize viruses from a wide range of genotypes…”
In other words, the measles vaccine works against all strains of measles in all genotypes of measles. That makes sense too, because the measles virus, unlike influenza, is monotypic.
There is only one main type of measles virus, despite the many small changes in the virus that can help us identify different strains and genotypes. And these changes don’t affect how antibodies protect us against the measles virus.
What To Know About Measles Strains
The best way to get protected against all measles strains is to get vaccinated with two doses of the MMR vaccine.
their child is on antibiotics – having a mild illness is not usually a good reason to skip or delay getting vaccines
their child had an allergic reaction to a vaccine – a severe, anaphylactic reaction to one vaccine or vaccine ingredient wouldn’t mean that your child couldn’t or shouldn’t get all or most of the others
a doctor wrote them a medical exemption – there are actually very few true contraindications to getting vaccinated and a permanent exemption to all vaccines would be extremely rare, which casts doubt on the ever growing rate of medical exemptions in many areas
they are Muslim – most Muslims vaccinate their kids and most Islamic countries have very good immunization rates.
someone at home is immunocompromised – since we stopped giving the oral polio vaccine, shedding from vaccines is not a big concern and contacts of those who are immunocompromised are usually encouraged to get vaccinated
they are Buddhist – most Buddhists vaccinate their kids – the Dalai Lama even led an oral polio vaccination drive recently and Buddhist countries have very good immunization rates.
someone in their family had a vaccine reaction – a family history of a vaccine reaction is not a good reason to skip or delay getting vaccinated, as it has not been shown to increase your own child’s risk of a reaction. And yes, this has even been shown for siblings of autistic children, which makes sense, since vaccines don’t cause autism.
What about other religions?
Whether you are Hindu, non-Catholic Christians, Amish, or Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc., remember that all major religions believe in vaccines. Of course, the Amish are a little more selective of when and which vaccines they will get, but as we saw in the Ohio measles outbreak, they do get vaccinated.
On the other hand, Christian Scientists don’t vaccinate, along with some small Christian churches that believe in faith healing and avoid modern medical care.
Still, most people understand why it is important to vaccinate their kids.
What to Know About These Reasons to Not Vaccinate Your Kids
What do you think about these reasons to not vaccinate your kids? Since they aren’t really absolute reasons to not get vaccinated, are you ready to get your kids vaccinated now?
In addition to learning how to give vaccines properly, it can help you answer any questions parents might have and help them understand that vaccines are safe, vaccines work, and vaccines are necessary to protect our kids.
Who needs to get educated about vaccines?
Everyone of course. While it’s great if all of the medical assistants and nurses have done their research about vaccines, you will have missed opportunities to get kids vaccinated and protected if the folks making appointments aren’t.
Learning the Immunization Schedule
How do you know when to give a particular vaccine to an infant, child, or older teen when they come to the office, besides the fact that someone else ordered it or the school says they need it?
“There is no ‘alternative’ immunization schedule. Delaying vaccines only leaves a child at risk of disease for a longer period of time; it does not make vaccinating safer.
Vaccines work, plain and simple. Vaccines are one of the safest, most effective and most important medical innovations of our time. Pediatricians partner with parents to provide what is best for their child, and what is best is for children to be fully vaccinated.”
Karen Remley, MD, Executive Director, American Academy of Pediatrics
For example, while some vaccines must be refrigerated, others must be frozen.
What happens if vaccines aren’t stored at the proper temperature?
If a vaccine gets too warm or too cold, it can lose some of its potency and it probably won’t work well. That can mean vaccinated kids don’t get the immunity you expect and are left unprotected to one or more vaccine-preventable diseases. Hopefully, the office discovers the problem before any kids have gotten the vaccine though and they are just left throwing out some unusable vaccines.
What To Know About Vaccine Education for Pediatric Offices
Vaccines are safe, necessary, and still needed to protect all of our kids from vaccine-preventable diseases. Help make sure everyone in your office is educated about the latest immunization schedule and understands how to give and store vaccines safely.
Pediatricians do know a lot about vaccines. What they may not know is how to counter every anti-vaccine argument that you might have heard of, read about, or with which one of your family members is scaring you.
“Pediatricians who routinely recommend limiting the numbers of vaccines administered at a single visit such that vaccines are administered late are providing care that deviates from the standard evidence-based schedule recommended by these bodies.”
American Academy of Pediatrics
You can rest assured that these arguments have all been debunked, often many years ago, but they keep coming up, over and over again. In fact, today’s anti-vaccine movement uses many of the same themes as folks used when the first vaccines were introduced over one hundred years ago.
If you know about the issues of waning immunity with some vaccines, then you already know the answer. And even if you didn’t know that immunity from the mumps and pertussis vaccines can wear off, then you likely do know that you need a tetanus booster every 10 years, so that vaccine doesn’t give life long immunity.
How long is the protection from other vaccines?
the measles vaccine provides protection for at least 35 years
the hepatitis B vaccine provides protection for at least 20 years
the hepatitis A vaccine provides protection for at least 14 years
the chicken pox vaccine provides protection for at least 20 years
both the oral and inactivated polio vaccines provide long lasting protection
the rubella vaccine provides protection for at least 21 years
Gardasil provides protection for at least 8 years
the Hib vaccine provides protection for at least 9 years
like tetanus, the diphtheria vaccine provides protection for at about 10 years
the pneumococcal vaccine (Prevnar) provides protection for at least 5 years
Why do we say “at least” in so many cases?
In general, that’s how long these vaccines have been around. As time goes by, we will hopefully find that they last much longer.
What To Know About the Duration of Protection from Vaccines
Although some vaccines require boosters, most vaccines provide long-lasting protection.
More Information About Duration of Protection from Vaccines
The Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund was set up by the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 as a source of funds to compensate people found to be injured by certain vaccines by the Vaccine Court.
Vaccine Excise Tax
Money for the Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund comes from a $0.75 excise tax on each vaccine that kids routinely get as recommended by the CDC.
Who pays this vaccine tax?
Is it the drug companies or folks getting the vaccines?
The U.S. Department of the Treasury collects the tax from the vaccine manufacturers.
But like other manufacturing costs, they likely just add it to the price of the vaccine. They are still paying it though.
Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund
How much does the IRS collect?
Between 2009 and 2013, it has averaged about $200 million a year.
The Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund has a balance of over $3 billion, as in addition to the excise tax, it gains interest on investments. That balance has grown because the Fund’s income has outpaced its payments (about $3.5 billion) over the years.