Tag: adjuvants

Which Flu Vaccine Should You Get?

After decades with a single type of flu vaccine – the flu shot – there are now many different kinds of flu vaccines that many of us can choose from. And your choices are not just between the nasal spray flu vaccine vs a flu shot. There are also a lot of different kinds of flu shots available now.

Everyone needs a flu shot. When will you get yours?
Everyone needs a flu shot. When will you get yours? Photo by Gabriel Saldana (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Having choices is nice.

It would be also be nice to have a little more guidance on what to do with these choices.

Are any of the flu vaccines better than others?

Which Flu Vaccine Should You Get?

This year, we will have:

  • quadrivalent flu shots – Afluria, Fluarix, FluLaval, Fluzone, Fluzone Pediatric Dose
  • quadrivalent flu shots that are cell-culture based – Flucelvax
  • quadrivalent flu shots that can be given intradermally – Fluzone Intradermal
  • trivalent flu shots – Afluria
  • trivalent flu shots that are adjuvanted – Fluad
  • high dose trivalent flu shots – Fluzone High-Dose
  • quadrivalent flu shots that are made with recombinant technology – Flublok
  • nasal spray flu vaccine – Flumist

Which one should you get?

It is actually easy to start by asking which one you should get for your kids, as many of these flu vaccine options are only available for adults and seniors.

Flu Vaccine Options

Before you start thinking too long and hard about potential options, keep in mind that you might not have as many options as you think.

“Not all products are likely to be uniformly available in any practice setting or locality. Vaccination should not be delayed in order to obtain a specific product when an appropriate one is already available.”

Prevention and Control of Seasonal Influenza with Vaccines: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices—United States, 2018–19 Influenza Season

Doctors and clinics might not stock multiple brands or types of flu vaccines, so you might have to get whatever flu vaccine that they have available.

“Within these guidelines and approved indications, where more than one type of vaccine is appropriate and available, no preferential recommendation is made for use of any influenza vaccine product over another.”

Prevention and Control of Seasonal Influenza with Vaccines: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices—United States, 2018–19 Influenza Season

And that’s okay. In most cases, there haven’t been head to head studies showing that one flu vaccine is better than another.

Flu Vaccine Options for Kids

Still, since these options might be available to you, it is good to know about them.

This year, younger kids, between the ages of 6 months and 3 years, can either get:

  • FluLaval Quadrilvalent
  • Fluarix Quadrivalent
  • Fluzone Quadrivalent Pediatric

While you are unlikely to notice a difference, both FluLaval and Fluarix are given at a 0.5ml dose containing 15 µg of HA per vaccine virus, while Fluzone is given at a 0.25ml dose containing 7.5 µg of HA per vaccine virus. Why the difference? “Safety and reactogenicity were similar between the two vaccines,” even at the different doses.

Basically, these are just different brands of the same type of flu shot.

There are even more options as your kids get older though, including  Fluzone Quadrivalent (age three and above), Afluria Quadrivalent or Trivalent (age five and above), Flucelvax Quadrivalent (age four and above), FluLaval and Fluarix.

Of these, some folks wonder if Flucelvax, since it isn’t made in chicken eggs, might be more effective than the others. Remember, one of the things that are thought to make the flu vaccine less effective than most other vaccines is that they are made in eggs, leading to mutations. And there is actually some evidence that those flu vaccines that are not made in eggs might be more effective.

“And the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is taking that a step further, saying it will only be buying the two egg-free vaccines on the market: Flucelvax and FluBlok. That’s because there is some evidence these two formulations may work better than the older vaccines grown in eggs, said Dr. Richard Zimmerman, who advises the UPMC Influenza Committee.”

Guidance on which flu vaccine to get: Shots for kids, maybe go egg-free

Again, remember that the CDC has made “no preferential recommendation” for one flu vaccine over another. Why not? We don’t have enough information to make that kind of recommendation.

Should parents only ask for Flucelvax? That would only work if they made enough doses for every kid to get vaccinated, which they didn’t. Should you hold out until you can find FluceIvax for your kids? No, since doing that might leave them unvaccinated once flu season hits.

What else should you know about your flu vaccine options? While over 80% of flu vaccines are now thimerosal free, most of these flu vaccines are still available in multi-dose vials with thimerosal.

Also thimerosal free, this year, Flumist is back as an option. It is available for healthy kids who are at least two years old. Although the AAP has issued a preference for flu shots this year, the ACIP says that kids can get either Flumist or a flu shot.

What about if your kids are allergic to eggs?

“Persons who report having had reactions to egg involving symptoms other than urticaria (hives), such as angioedema, respiratory distress, lightheadedness, or recurrent emesis; or who required epinephrine or another emergency medical intervention, may similarly receive any licensed, recommended, and age-appropriate influenza vaccine (i.e., any IIV, RIV4, or LAIV4) that is otherwise appropriate for their health status.”

Prevention and Control of Seasonal Influenza with Vaccines: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices—United States, 2018–19 Influenza Season

Unless they had a severe allergic reaction to a previous flu vaccine, they can get any available flu vaccine, especially if the previous reaction was only hives or they are able to eat eggs.

What if you want a flu vaccine without aluminum? Take your pick. While it would be safe it was, aluminum is not an ingredient in flu vaccines.

Flu Vaccine Options for Adults

In addition to all of the flu vaccines available for older kids, adults have a few more options:

  • Afluria Quadrivalent or Trivalent can be given by jet injector  to those between the ages of 18 and 64 years
  • Flublok Quadrivalent – a recombinant flu shot that can be given to those who are at least 18 years old
  • Fluzone High-Dose – a trivalent flu shot with a higher dose of flu virus antigens (4 times the amount of antigen as a regular flu shot) that is available for seniors who are at least 65 years old
  • Fluad – a trivalent flu shot with an adjuvant that is available for seniors who are at least 65 years old

Why get a flu vaccine with a jet injector instead of a standard needle? High-pressure jet injectors don’t use needles!

Like FluceIvax, Flublok is not made in chicken eggs. The recombinant hemagglutinin(HA) proteins are made in insect cell lines. Does Flublok work better than egg based flu vaccines? That’s the theory, but again, there is no preference for one of these vaccines over another.

Seniors have even more choices.

Should they get Fluzone High-Dose, Fluad, or one of the other flu vaccines? Both have been shown to be more effective than standard flu vaccines in seniors, but they have not been compared against each other.

“In a Canadian observational study of 282 people aged 65 years and older conducted during the 2011-12 season, Fluad was 63% more effective than regular-dose unadjuvanted flu shots.”

CDC on People 65 Years and Older & Influenza

But neither Fluzone High-Dose nor Fluad are quadrivalent, so only protect against three flu virus strains.

Is there a quadrivalent flu shot for older adults that might work better than standard flu shots?

Yes. FluceIvax and Flublok are non-egg based quadrivalent flu shots that might be more effective than standard flu vaccines.

So are you more confused now that you know you have so many options? Just remember that for most people, the mistake isn’t about choosing the right flu vaccine, it is about not getting vaccinated.

What to Know About Your Flu Vaccine Options

While it might seem like you have a lot more options in a flu vaccine this year and that some might be more effective than others, keep in mind that availability will likely greatly limit these “options.”

And the best flu vaccine is the one that you actually get, as it will be the one that reduces your risk of getting the flu. Missing your chance to get vaccinated and protected because you are waiting for a specific brand or type of flu vaccine isn’t going to help keep the flu away.

More on Your Flu Vaccine Options

Who Is Chris Exley?

Are you worried about aluminum in vaccines?

If you are, the chances are good that you have been reading something by or about Professor Christopher Exley recently.

Who Is Chris Exley?

To those in the anti-vaccine movement, Professor Chris Exley is one of the worlds’ leading experts on the subject of aluminum toxicity.

“I am a Biologist (University of Stirling) with a PhD in the ecotoxicology of aluminium (University of Stirling). My research career (1984-present) has focussed upon an intriguing paradox; ‘how come the third most abundant element of the Earth’s crust (aluminium) is non-essential and largely inimcal to life’. Investigating this mystery has required research in myriad fields from the basic inorganic chemistry of the reaction of aluminium and silicon to the potentially complex biological availability of aluminium in humans. I am also fascinated by the element silicon in relation to living things which, as the second most abundant element of the Earth’s crust, is also almost devoid of biological function. One possible function of silicon is to keep aluminium out of biology (biota) and this forms a large part of the research in our group. We are also interested in biological silicification.”

Professor Chris Exley Keele University Staff Profile

What do other people think of Dr. Exley and his work?

“Let me put this straight, this is not a paper that has evidence of scientific fraud or data manipulation. There is no duplicated images, no suspicious blots. The problem I have with this paper is its deep experimental flaws and data analysis that nonetheless should not have passed through the peer-review filter.”

Does the latest paper from Exley show a link between ASD and aluminum?

While it is typically strange to talk about fraud and data manipulation when starting to review a scientific study, remember that other aluminum studies, including other aluminum studies that were also funded by the Children’s Medical Safety Research Institute (CMSRI), were recently retracted.

In addition to performing deeply flawed studies about aluminum, Chris Exley gives lectures about aluminum toxicity at so-called vaccine safety conferences. At one 2011 conference, in addition to Exley talking about The systemic toxicity of aluminium adjuvants, you could have heard presentations by:

  • Russell Blaylock, MD on The central role of immunoexcitotoxicity in aluminum and mercury-containing adjuvant-triggered neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders
  • Shiv Chopra, MSc, PhD on Vaccination programs: prevention or corruption?
  • John Barthelow Classen, MD on Vaccine induced epidemics of type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes/obesity/metabolic syndrome, and their relationship to the epidemic of autoimmune autism
  • Barbara Loe Fisher, President & Founder of NVIC on Medical science & public trust: the policy, ethics and law of vaccination in the 20th & 21st Centuries
  • Lawrence Palevsky, MD, FAAP on Rethinking the germ theory
  • Christopher Shaw, PhD on Aluminum as a neurotoxin: the evidence from cell culture, in vivo, and human studies
  • Yehuda Shoenfeld, MD, FRCP on ASIA – Autoimmune (Auto-inflammatory) Syndrome induced by Adjuvant: a new syndrome to be defined
  • Lucija Tomljenovic, PhD on Gardasil: prophylaxis or medical misconduct? and Aluminum adjuvants and immunization science: a matter of pervasive uncertainty
  • Andrew Wakefield, MB, BS on Autism and vaccines: a research strategy focused on cause

Chris Exley keeps interesting company if he doesn’t want to be thought of as someone who is anti-vaccine…

Interestingly, he also believes that we are living in The Aluminum Age.

“The human race has inadvertently agreed to participate in a clinical trial to assess and understand the toxicity of human exposure to aluminium. This is an experiment which is, of course, ongoing as I write and you read this essay. It is an experiment which has neither been submitted for independent peer review nor received ethical approval.”

And he seems fairly sure that aluminum is responsible for a whole host of diseases, from Alzheimer’s and autism to diabetes.

Why hasn’t research been done to figure out whether or not aluminum is safe?

“While there are thousands of scientific publications over many decades demonstrating the toxicity of aluminium in all living things the larger questions concerning aluminium and common human diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease or diabetes remain unanswered or at best equivocal. These questions remain unanswered primarily because neither the global aluminium industry nor governments which have allowed the unfettered growth of the use of aluminium products are prepared for an answer. Try to imagine the immediate and short term economic consequences of human exposure to aluminium being directly linked as causal or even contributory in just one disease, for example Alzheimer’s disease.”

Of course, it’s a conspiracy!

“The ensuing chaos and stock market crashes would be unpalatable but they would just be the beginning of a world which would now have to change to address and accommodate such knowledge. Now that the tip of the iceberg has become visible the remainder would have to be investigated and the inevitable consequences of human exposure to aluminium would be revealed, piece by piece, and a new jigsaw of life on Earth would slowly be pieced together.”

Just like it was a conspiracy that there was a “tsunami of silence perpetuated by all mainstream media, almost globally” following his deeply flawed study that he thought linked aluminum adjuvants in vaccines and autism.

chris-exley-conspiracy
More than the criticism, it seems that Chris Exley was really bothered that his latest research was ignored…

What’s next for Exley?

You can be sure it will be something about aluminum toxicity…

What to Know About Chris Exley

Professor Chris Exley is an expert on telling folks that aluminum is toxic.

More About the Chris Exley

How Aluminum Became the New Thimerosal

Once thimerosal was taken out of vaccines, some doctors were left with a dilemma. What were anxious parents going to worry about now?

Some continued to push myths about thimerosal, but many quickly found a new “toxin” to scare folks about – aluminum.

More than 10 years ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a position paper stating that “aluminum is now being implicated as interfering with a variety of cellular and metabolic processes in the nervous system and in other tissues.”

Lawrence Palevsky, MD on Aluminum: The New Mercury?

Palevsky wasn’t the only doc to try and shift parents’ fears onto aluminum.

He wasn’t even the first to make it sound like the AAP had been warning about aluminum for years and years.

Bob Sears, MD seems to have that honor with his 2008 article in Mothering Magazine, Is Aluminum the New Thimerosal?.

“As a medical doctor, my first instinct was to worry that these aluminum levels far exceed what may be safe for babies. My second instinct was to assume that the issue had been properly researched, and that studies had been done on healthy infants to determine their ability to rapidly excrete aluminum. My third instinct was to search for these studies. So far, I have found none. It’s likely the FDA thinks that the kidneys of healthy infants work well enough to excrete aluminum before it can circulate through the body, accumulate in the brain, and cause toxic effects. However, I can find no references in FDA documents that show that using aluminum in vaccines has been tested and found to be safe.”

Bob Sears, MD

Unlike Dr. Bob, my first instinct when faced with a situation like this is to look to someone with a little more expertise before scaring folks away from vaccinating and protecting their kids. And do you know what all of those experts say – aluminum salts in vaccines are safe.

Bob Sears appeared on Fox & Friends in 2010 for the segment "Vaccines: A Bad Combination?"
Bob Sears appeared on Fox & Friends in 2010 for the segment “Vaccines: A Bad Combination?”

That’s not surprising, because just about everything Dr. Bob warned about and somehow equated with vaccines, was really about premature neonates and infants getting daily intravenous fluids and IV feeding solutions over prolonged periods of time, especially premature neonates and infants with impaired kidney function. Although aluminum toxicity wasn’t thought to be a common problem, even in these situations, it was thought to be enough of a risk that doctors were warned about it, and TPN fluid was limited to no more than 25 micrograms per liter of aluminum.

And that’s why the AAP had issued their position paper.

Now, would a premature baby getting IVF or an IV feeding solution containing aluminum every day for several weeks or months ever really be thought of as being at the same risk as an infant who gets a few aluminum salt containing vaccines at their well checkups?

No, it is clearly not the same thing.

“We conclude that episodic exposures to vaccines that contain aluminum adjuvant continue to be extremely low risk to infants and that the benefits of using vaccines containing aluminum adjuvant outweigh any theoretical concerns.”

Mitkus et al on Updated aluminum pharmacokinetics following infant exposures through diet and vaccination.

And not surprisingly, the aluminum salts that kids get in vaccines have been shown to be safe.

“Importantly, aluminum has a good safety record in which reported adverse events have been limited to acute local reactions.”

Glanz et al. on Cumulative and episodic vaccine aluminum exposure in a population-based cohort of young children.

Don’t believe the new anti-vaccine propaganda about aluminum and don’t let it scare you away from vaccinating and protecting your kids.

“We found no evidence that aluminium salts in vaccines cause any serious or long-lasting adverse events.”

Jefferson et al. on Adverse events after immunisation with aluminium-containing DTP vaccines: systematic review of the evidence.

Vaccines are safe and necessary.

Vaccines with aluminum salts as an adjuvant are safe and necessary.

What to Know About Aluminum Adjuvants in Vaccines

Aluminum salts in vaccines are safe. Skipping or delaying your child’s vaccines because you have been scared about aluminum isn’t.

More on Aluminum Adjuvants in Vaccines

Vaccines and Autism Redux

Is it true that only one ingredient (thimerosal) and one vaccine (MMR) has ever been looked at for its relationship to autism?

No, as you can probably guess, it is not.

“This meta-analysis of five case-control and five cohort studies has found no evidence for the link between vaccination and the subsequent risk of developing autism or autistic spectrum disorder. Subgroup analyses looking specifically at MMR vaccinations, cumulative mercury dosage, and thimerosal exposure individually were similarly negative, as were subgroup analyses looking specifically at development of autistic disorder versus other autistic spectrum disorder.”

Taylor et al on Vaccines are not associated with autism: An evidence-based meta-analysis of case-control and cohort studies

Since much of the original focus about vaccines and autism was on the MMR vaccine and thimerosal, that’s where a lot of the research to reassure parents went first.

Other research has been done though too, so it really is safe to say that vaccines are not associated with autism, even though some may continue to see a correlation.

“To try to isolate the effects of thimerosal from other vaccine constituents, we performed a subanalysis comparing risks associated with diphtheria-tetanus-whole cell pertussis vaccine or diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis vaccine and Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine given separately or combined.”

Verstraeten et al on Safety of Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines: A Two-Phased Study of Computerized Health Maintenance Organization Databases

The great majority of parents know that:

  • it is not the MMR vaccine
  • it is not thimerosal or thimerosal containing vaccines
  • it is not the overall number of vaccines that are given to a child
  • it is not the timing of when the vaccines are given to children

And it hasn’t been just one or two studies that have shown that there is no association between vaccines and autism. There are dozens. There is also a comprehensive review by the Institute of Medicine and a very large meta-analysis that have come to the same conclusion.

Vaccines are not associated with autism.

Vaccines and Autism Redux

Could it be aluminum though?

Why aluminum? Because anti-vaccine experts cite some poorly done studies that try to say it is.

Bob Sears appeared on Fox & Friends in 2010 for the segment "Vaccines: A Bad Combination?"
Bob Sears appeared on Fox & Friends in 2010 for the segment “Vaccines: A Bad Combination?”

Aluminum has become the new formaldehyde, which used to be the new thimerosal. It is apparently where the goalposts have shifted when some folks talk about vaccines and autism now that every knows it is not the MMR vaccine, thimerosal, vaccine overload, or the timing of vaccines.

But if studies have shown that it is neither the number of vaccines nor the timing of vaccines, then how could it be aluminum, an adjuvant in many vaccines?

It isn’t.

Aluminum is not the smoking gun or the missing puzzle piece that anti-vaccine folks will continue to look for.

What other myths about vaccines and autism have been coming up lately?

Have you heard the one about the court ruling confirming a vaccine autism link? It didn’t.

Did you know that the FDA officially announced that vaccines are causing autism? They didn’t, but do you know why some folks are now saying they did? Because of the old package insert for the Tripedia vaccine, which lists autism as a possible adverse event (without evidence of causation). The vaccine was discontinued years ago, but it continues to pop up as ‘new’ evidence for some as an association between vaccines and autism.

Or maybe you have heard these other new theories from the anti-vaccine movement as they desperately try to prove an association between vaccines and autism:

  • vaccines block folate uptake
  • MTHFR gene mutations
  • maternal immune activation
  • cytokine storms
  • glutathione depletion
  • glyphosate
  • DNA fragments
  • microbiota alterations
  • GI barrier defects
  • blood brain barrier permeability problems

You don’t even have to pick just one theory anymore (the fact that the MMR vaccine doesn’t contain thimerosal or aluminum kind of puts these theories into opposition with each other, doesn’t it?). You can choose for any or all of them to be true if you want. Using synergistic toxicity, you pick a few of your favorite theories and make them 100 times more likely to damage your child! Not really, but that’s how some anti-vaccine folks think.

“Autism is not an immune-mediated disease. Unlike autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, there is no evidence of immune activation or inflammatory lesions in the CNS of people with autism. In fact, current data suggest that genetic variation in neuronal circuitry that affects synaptic development might in part account for autistic behavior. Thus, speculation that an exaggerated or inappropriate immune response to vaccination precipitates autism is at variance with current scientific data that address the pathogenesis of autism.”

Gerber et al on Vaccines and Autism: A Tale of Shifting Hypotheses

Of course, none of them are true.

Vaccines are still not associated with autism.

What to Know About Vaccines and Autism

Vaccines are still not associated with autism, even though anti-vaccine folks continue to come up with new ideas for how it might be, from glyphosate and DNA fragments in vaccines to MTHFR mutations and maternal immune activation.

More on Vaccines and Autism

How Are Vaccines Really Made?

Do you know how vaccines are made?

A lab worker injects flu virus into an egg, one of many steps in making our flu vaccines.
A lab worker injects flu virus into an egg, one of many steps in making our flu vaccines. Photo courtesy of the FDA

When we say that chickens are used to make flu vaccine, do you think that means that live chickens are actually infected with the flu to make the vaccine?

They aren’t.

Just like live monkeys aren’t injected with the polio virus to make the polio vaccine.

Those are just myths you see in vaccine scare videos on anti-vaccine websites.

How Are Vaccines Really Made?

So how are vaccines really made?

It depends, after all, there are a lot of different types of vaccines.

But instead of monkey cages and chicken coops in the labs of today’s vaccine manufacturers, you will find clean rooms with large scale, stainless steel bioreactors, master cell banks, seed fermenters, microcarriers, centrifuges, filtration and chromatography equipment, and filling and lyophilization equipment.

Do you picture a series of these large scale, stainless steel bioreactors when you think about how vaccines are made?
Do you picture a series of these large scale, stainless steel bioreactors when you think about how vaccines are made?

That doesn’t sound so scary or shocking, does it?

What’s shocking about the whole process of making a vaccine?

It takes a long time. Often one to three years! And that’s after all of the time that went into the research, testing, and licensing of the vaccine.

“Viruses are grown in cells, which can be either primary cells, such as chicken fbroblasts (e.g., yellow fever vaccine), or continuous cell lines, such as MRC-5 (e.g., hepatitis A vaccine). Bacterial pathogens are grown in bioreactors using medium developed to optimize the yield of the antigen while maintaining its integrity. Recombinant proteins can be manufactured in bacteria, yeast, or cell culture. ”

Plotkin’s Vaccines (Seventh Edition)

The only other shocking thing about making vaccines is how boring it all is, at least if you aren’t into biology, with most vaccines using the same basic steps:

  • decide on the type of antigen – vaccines can be made of attenuated live viruses, inactivated viruses or bacteria,  or just part of the virus or bacteria (subunit and conjugate vaccines)
  • generate an antigen – this is the thing in the vaccine that will stimulate an immune response and protect your child. It used to be what anti-vaccine folks were concerned about until we explained that kids today are exposed to far fewer antigens, even though they get more vaccines and more protection.
  • release and isolate the antigen – the antigen was either growing in cells or other medium and in this step, as much of the antigen is collected as possible.
  • purify the antigen – multiple steps are involved in removing many of the vaccine ingredients or excipients that were used up to this step by precipitation, ultrafiltration, and column chromatography, etc. That’s why many are said to remain only in residual amounts, like formaldehyde.
  • strengthen the antigen – in this step, an adjuvant might be added.
  • combine all of the ingredientsstabilizers and preservatives might also be added in this step.
  • last steps – finished vaccine is put in vials and syringes and then packaged
  • lot release and distribution – each lot is tested before it is released to make sure it meets FDA standards for potency, safety, and sterility.

None of that sounds as scary as injecting monkeys with smallpox, watching them die, and then harvesting their infected kidney cells though, does it? If you have watched any of the anti-vaccine scare videos, hopefully the first thing that came to mind is that the smallpox vaccine isn’t actually made with the smallpox virus! It is, of course, made with vaccinia virus and wouldn’t cause anyone, whether a monkey, cow, or person to actually get smallpox. And if you haven’t figured it out by now, monkeys aren’t used to make smallpox vaccines.

“Both vaccines are derived from the New York City Board of Health strain of vaccinia, but Dryvax was grown on the skin of calves and then essentially freeze-dried for storage. It was licensed by FDA in 1931 but is no longer manufactured. ACAM2000, a “second generation” smallpox vaccine, is derived from a clone of Dryvax, purified, and produced using modern cell culture technology.”

FDA on ACAM2000 (Smallpox Vaccine) Questions and Answers

In fact, most of today’s vaccines are made in bioreactors, not in cows or monkeys.

Flu vaccine is mostly still made using chicken eggs, specifically 11-day-old embryonated chicken eggs. The flu viruses are passed into the eggs, incubated for a time to allow them to grow, and then harvested, inactivated, and purified.

How purified do they get? So purified that even people with egg allergies can get a flu vaccine these days.

Vaccines are safe. Vaccines are made safely.

What to Know About How Vaccines Are Really Made

Vaccines are made using a very safe and scientific process that is heavily regulated that will neither scare nor shock you.

More on How Vaccines Are Really Made

Who is Dr. Yehuda Shoenfeld

Dr. Yehuda Shoenfeld is an immunologist who heads the Zabludowicz Center for Autoimmune Diseases, which was created by Poju Zabludowicz. He is also on the scientific advisory board for the Children’s Medical Safety Research Institute.

He claims to have discovered a novel vaccine-associated autoimmune disease – Autoimmune Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants (ASIA).

The History of Adjuvant Diseases

Shoenfeld’s Autoimmune Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants is not the first time that adjuvants have been blamed for causing diseases in people.

As far back as 1964, Kan Miyoshi had written about “human adjuvant disease” following augmentation with silicone breast implants. Silicone gel-filled breast implants were eventually removed from the market, following case reports describing an association and years of lawsuits against manufacturers, but more studies were done that found that “there was no evidence that silicone breast implants caused systemic health effects such as cancer or autoimmune disease.”

So gel-filled breast implants came back, but unfortunately, the idea of “human adjuvant disease” never really went away.

Dr. Yehuda Shoenfeld and Vaccines

Dr. Shoenfeld is the latest to blame adjuvants for causing disease.

“At present, there is no evidence to suggest that ASIA syndrome is a viable explanation for unusual autoimmune diseases.”

David Hawkes on Revisiting adverse reactions to vaccines: A critical appraisal of Autoimmune Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants (ASIA)

It has helped him to become very well known among the modern anti-vaccine movement, a hero to some, who use his new vaccine-associated autoimmune diseases as a reason to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

That’s despite the fact that ASIA has been rejected by the NVICP as a basis for vaccine injury and is dismissed by most medical experts.

Dr. Yehuda Shoenfeld Studies

Among the studies published by Dr. Yehuda Shoenfeld include:

  • Human papilloma virus and lupus: the virus, the vaccine and the disease.
  • Journal of Autoimmunity. Seasonality and autoimmune diseases: The contribution of the four seasons to the mosaic of autoimmunity.
  • Current Opinions in Rheumatology. Autoimmune/Inflammatory Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants and Thyroid Autoimmunity.
  • Lupus.Autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants (Shoenfeld’s syndrome) – An update.
  • Immunologic Research. Phospholipid supplementation can attenuate vaccine-induced depressive-like behavior in mice.
  • Behavioral abnormalities in female mice following administration of aluminum adjuvants and the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil.
  • Immunologic Research. Pancreatitis after human papillomavirus vaccination: a matter of molecular mimicry.
  • Israel Medical Association Journal. Autoimmune/Inflammatory Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants and Sjögren’s Syndrome.
  • Immunologic Research. Adjuvants and lymphoma risk as part of the ASIA spectrum.
  • Journal of Autoimmunity. Immunization with hepatitis B vaccine accelerates SLE-like disease in a murine model.
  • Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia With Chronic Fatigue After HPV Vaccination as Part of the “Autoimmune/Auto-inflammatory Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants”: Case Report and Literature Review.
  • Immunity, autoimmunity and inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Lupus. When APS (Hughes syndrome) met the autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA).
  • Brief report: immune factors in autism: a critical review.

So, among the things that Shoenfeld seems to link to vaccine adjuvants include the development of primary ovarian insufficiency, depression, autism, pancreatitis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjögren syndrome, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, subacute thyroiditis, antiphospholipid syndrome, transverse myelitis, lymphoma, POTS, and antiphospholipid antibody syndrome.

How does he do it? Mostly through experiments on mice and small case reports.

Also it seems, sometimes by a little misdirection.

“A cohort study was performed to assess the risk of new onset autoimmune disease in young women exposed to human papillomavirus-16/18 AS04-adjuvanted vaccine in the United Kingdom (55). The study reported an incidence rate ratio (95% CI) of 3.75 (1.25–11.31) for autoimmune thyroiditis among females.”

Yehuda Shoenfeld on Autoimmune/Inflammatory Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants and Thyroid Autoimmunity

Shoenfeld’s article on “Autoimmune/Inflammatory Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants and Thyroid Autoimmunity,” actually cites a study which concluded that “There was no evidence of an increased risk of AD in women aged 9 to 25 years after AS04-HPV-16/18 vaccination.”

Dr. Yehuda Shoenfeld Controversies

The CMSRI funded the research and sponsored the conference that showcased Shoenfeld's work.
The CMSRI funded the research and sponsored the conference that showcased Shoenfeld’s work.

Among the biggest problems with the work of Dr. Shoenfeld are claims that:

  • he receives funding for his research from the Children’s Medical Safety Research Institute, who’s founder once said that “Vaccines are a holocaust of poison on our children’s brains and immune systems.” Even his book, Vaccines and Autoimmunity, was funded by the CMSRI. His conferences are also sponsored by the CMSRI, including the International Congress on Autoimmunity and the International Symposium on Vaccines.
  • he seems to get many of his studies published in what experts describe as predatory open access journals
  • he seems to get many of his studies published in journals on which he sits on the journal’s editorial board, a potential conflict of interest, including Autoimmunity Reviews (founder and editor), the Journal of Autoimmunity (co-editor), and the Israel Medical Association Journal (founder and editor), Immunologic Research (topic editor for Immunoregulation and Autoimmunity), Lupus (Editorial Board). It is usually considered a better practice to get an outside editor in these situations, instead of editing your own articles.
  • at least one of the journals he edits, Autoimmunity Reviews, is said to be very sympathetic to anti-vaccine studies
  • he serves as an expert witness in vaccine injury lawsuits, another potential conflict of interest
  • at least one Shoenfeld study was retracted after it was published
  • none of his ASIA studies are in more high impact journals, such as The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, or Annual Review of Immunology, etc.
  • many of his collaborators are also funded by CMSRI

The biggest issue is that adjuvants in vaccines are being made to be seen as a problem by anti-vaccine folks, even as Shoenfeld claims that “vaccines are beneficial for the vast majority of subjects including those who suffer from autoimmune-rheumatic diseases,” and even he finds problems in only “a small minority of individuals.”

“It reminds us that due to the ubiquitous nature of the innate and adaptive response, that there are a large number of diseases that have either an inflammatory and/or specific autoimmune response, we have to keep an open eye because everything is potentially autoimmune until proven otherwise.”

Yehuda Shoenfeld on Everything is Autoimmune Until Proven Otherwise

It was another Shoenfeld study that suggested that the HPV vaccine could cause primary ovarian insufficiency. Shoenfeld’s “link” between the HPV vaccine and primary ovarian insufficiency was based on a review of only three case studies, for which he was the expert witness in lawsuits for two of the cases!

Shoenfeld's article in Vaccine about behavioral problems after HPV vaccination was withdrawn because of serious concerns regarding the scientific soundness of the article.
Shoenfeld’s article in Vaccine about behavioral problems after HPV vaccination was withdrawn because of “serious concerns regarding the scientific soundness of the article.”

Most importantly, many studies have failed to confirm Shoenfeld’s link between the HPV vaccine and primary ovarian insufficiency and much of his other work:

Like his idea of novel vaccine-associated autoimmune disease (ASIA), which he still pushes, it was proven otherwise.

Dr. Shoenfeld Is on the Wrong Side of the Vaccine Debate

Dr. Shoenfeld’s characterization of the vaccine debate will likely surprise many of his followers.

“On the one hand, we find anti-vaccination movements, which divulge and disseminate misleading information, myths, prejudices, and even frauds, with the main aim of denying that vaccination practices represent a major public health measure, being effective in controlling infectious diseases and safeguarding the wellbeing of entire communities.”

Shoenfeld et al. on Debate on vaccines and autoimmunity: Do not attack the author, yet discuss it methodologically

His characterization that most vaccine safety research is potentially biased because it is “mainly financed and sponsored by pharmaceutical industries” is also surprising, or maybe just ironic, considering of where he gets his funding.

“Instead of focusing on methodological issues and content, the ‘‘prevailing wisdom” has put to rest any view that would contradict the sacred ‘‘doctrine” of vaccinology.”

Shoenfeld et al. on Debate on vaccines and autoimmunity: Do not attack the author, yet discuss it methodologically

His conclusions of why his studies are criticized are also very wrong.

“…we feel that the continued presentation of a theory without evidence in both medico-legal and scientific forums is detrimental to the exploration of further understanding of the causational factors of a patient’s condition.”

D. Hawkes et al. on Response to: HPV vaccine and autoimmunity

It is the “actual science” of his studies that is “being methodologically assessed and critiqued.” And it has been found to be lacking.

What To Know About Dr. Yehuda Shoenfeld

With funding from the CMSRI and the Zabludowicz Center for Autoimmune Diseases, Dr. Yehuda Shoenfeld has folks falsely believing that adjuvants in vaccines are causing autoimmune diseases – his Autoimmune Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants (ASIA).

More About Dr. Yehuda Shoenfeld

Who Is Tetyana Obukhanych?

It isn’t very hard to figure out who Tetyana Obukhanych really is.

Who Is Tetyana Obukhanych?

Every anti-vaccine article you read that is either about her, or by her, goes out of their way to make sure that you know that she:

  • has a Ph.D. in Immunology: working in the lab of Dr. Michel Nussenzweig, she presented her thesis on Immunologic Memory to Polysaccharide Antigens to the faculty of The Rockefeller University in 2006, in which she proved that vaccines work
  • trained at Harvard: started her postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School, which can lead to a tenure-track faculty position (it didn’t)
  • trained at Stanford: did some of her postdoctoral training in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Science at the Stanford University School of Medicine, which again, can lead to a tenure-track faculty position (it didn’t)
  • has 8 published peer-reviewed research articles: that she co-authored with many others and only one has her as the primary author, in which she concluded that “As the generation and regulation of immunologic memory is central to vaccination, our findings help explain the mode of action of the few existing polysaccharide vaccines and provide a rationale for a wider application of polysaccharide-based strategies in vaccination.”
  • wrote a book about vaccines: that she self-published for the Kindle
  • frequently lectures about vaccines: which are basically interviews and talks that push classic anti-vaccine misinformation, despite her having “studied immunology in some of the world’s most prestigious medical institutions”

Not surprisingly, the modern anti-vaccine movement loves her.

“All throughout my PhD training I was a faithful believer in vaccination. I believed for almost two decades that the reason I had contracted measles and whooping cough during my teenage years was because I wasn’t vaccinated against these diseases. Then, when I had to check my childhood vaccination records, I discovered that I was in fact fully vaccinated for both measles and whooping cough, and the resulting contradiction necessitated me to reexamine all my previous beliefs about the immunologic theory behind vaccination.”

Tetyana Obukhanych, Ph.D.

While getting a vaccine-preventable disease after being vaccinated might make some folks question the whole “immunologic theory behind vaccination,” for most others, they would simply question other factors that might have led to this possible vaccine failure.

Was she fully vaccinated according to the US immunization schedule (two doses of a measles containing vaccine and four doses of a pertussis containing vaccine, with a booster as a teenager)? Were the vaccines equivalent? Were there outbreaks going on?

Outbreaks?

Although it is not clear when she came to the United States to pursue her education, Tetyana Obukhanych was born in Ukraine and likely lived through the “massive epidemic” of diphtheria and other vaccine-preventable diseases in the Newly Independent States of the former Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

“This epidemic, primarily affecting adults in most Newly Independent States of the former Soviet Union, demonstrates that in a modern society diphtheria can still spread explosively and cause extensive illness and death.”

Diphtheria in the Former Soviet Union: Reemergence of a Pandemic Disease

In Ukraine alone, there were 17,387 cases of diphtheria and 646 deaths from 1992 to 1997. Also high, were cases of measles (over 23,000 cases in 1993) and pertussis (almost 7,000 cases in 1993).

Even if she had already left Ukraine, those outbreaks are great evidence that vaccines work and that vaccines are necessary.

Tetyana Obukhanych on Vaccines

Instead of discussing them, Tetyana Obukhanych operates using an appeal to authority to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

As an immunologist, isn’t she really an authority though?

Consider that even though she might be a Harvard trained immunologist with a PhD, there are:

  • over 7,600 members of the American Association of Immunologists
  • just over 8,000 residents and postdoctoral fellows at Harvard
  • 1,279 postdocs at Standford School of Medicine

and few, if any, agree with anything she says about vaccines.

“Research has repeatedly confirmed that vaccinations are safe and highly effective for all healthy children and adults, and any suggestions to the contrary have been discredited. Ongoing vaccine research continually reaffirms its safety and efficacy, including the number of vaccines administered at any one time and the recommended vaccination schedule.”

The American Association of Immunologists Statement on Vaccines

Now if “more than 7,600 basic and clinical immunologists, strongly support the use of vaccines to prevent disease,” then why would you even think about listening to just one who doesn’t?

We actually know why.

It’s called confirmation bias.

“Many questions in science and medicine are confusing and frustrating, but fortunately, the question of vaccination need not be one of them. Because for vaccines, the verdict is already in: guilty of being safe, effective, powerful, and highly recommended.”

Vivian Chou is a Ph.D. student in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program at Harvard Medical School.

So what does Tetyana Obukhanych think about vaccines?

  • A pic of a cherry on the cover would have been more appropriate, as a lot of cherry picking of studies and references goes on in the book.
    A pic of a cherry on the cover would have been more appropriate, as a lot of cherry picking of studies and references goes on in her e-book.

    that experts overlooked that the smallpox vaccine didn’t provide life-long immunity, even though it was known by the end of the 19th century that boosters could be needed and that was well before any other vaccine was developed

  • that Immunology has no theoretical or evidence-based explanation for immunity – she should read the book Immunity by William E. Paul, MD – an internationally renowned immunologist
  • that instead of simply helping vaccines work better, adjuvants are necessary to help vaccines work at all, because “purified protein antigens do not have an ability to induce antibody production in humans or animals (the recipients) on their own.”
  • that adjuvants are necessary to develop allergies, including food allergies – because “without an adjuvant, there will be no immune response to a food protein or peptide, and it will not become an allergen.”
  • that vaccines are only monitored for two or three weeks to make sure they are safe
  • that titer tests or “a positive serological test is a proof of immunity only in the absence of vaccination. In vaccinated individuals, a serological test of immunity is biologically meaningless.”
  • that we have created a so-called vaccine paradox, in which “vaccines reduce the overall incidence of childhood diseases, yet make them infinitely more dangerous for the next generation of babies.”
  • that homeopathy works
  • that “for most communicable viral diseases there is no herd immunity in the post – elimination era.”

Being Harvard trained can certainly be a big deal. After all, John Enders, “The Father of Modern Vaccines,” who won the Nobel Prize for his work on the cultivation of the poliomyelitis viruses and who developed the first live measles vaccine, trained at Harvard.

“The apparent absence of major viral epidemics in the U.S. is now due to the absence of endemic viral exposure, not herd immunity.”

Tetyana Obukhanych, PhD on Vaccine Illusion

Some would wonder if Tetyana Obukhanych even knows who John Enders was…

Tragically, as Dr. Tetyana Obukhanych, the Harvard trained immunologist from Ukraine goes on and on about how vaccines don’t work, Ukraine is facing outbreaks of measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases due to parents not vaccinating their kids and limited supplies of vaccines.

Unfortunately, they aren’t lucky enough to have an “absence of endemic viral exposure,” or in other words, herd immunity.

What To Know About Tetyana Obukhanych

While she is a Harvard trained immunologist with a PhD, Tetyana Obukhanych pushes classic misinformation about vaccines that you would be hard pressed to get any other immunologist or Harvard grad to agree.

More on Tetyana Obukhanych