Tag: flu shot myths

How Effective Is the Flu Vaccine?

The flu vaccine works.

How well does it work?

It depends…

How Effective Is the Flu Vaccine?

What does it depend on?

“The vaccine effectiveness of seasonal influenza vaccines is a measure of how well the seasonal influenza vaccine prevents influenza virus infection in the general population during a given influenza season.”

WHO on Vaccine effectiveness estimates for seasonal influenza vaccines

Is the flu virus that is going around the same strain that was picked to be in the flu vaccine?

Once upon a time, we didn't have flu vaccines to help keep us healthy.
Once upon a time, we didn’t have flu vaccines to help keep us healthy.

Has the flu virus drifted, even if it is the same strain that is in the flu vaccine, becoming different enough that your protective flu antibodies won’t recognize it?

Is the H3N2 strain of flu virus the predominate strain during the flu season? H3N2 predominant flu seasons are thought to be worse than others.

In general, the flu vaccine is going to be less effective in a season where there is a poor match between the circulating strain of flu virus that is getting people sick and the strain that is in the flu vaccine, especially if it is an H3N2 strain that has drifted.

That’s why, since the 2004-05 season, the average flu vaccine effectiveness has been about 41%.

How Effective Is This Year’s Flu Vaccine?

It’s probably also why, every year, we seem to hear the same questions:

  • Should I get a flu vaccine? – yes, definitely
  • Will we have enough flu vaccines? – while historically there have been some delays and shortages, we have a very good supply of flu vaccine this year, between 151 to 166 million doses
  • How effective is this year’s flu vaccine???

Unfortunately, we really won’t know the answer to that last question until this year’s flu season really gets going.

What about reports that the flu vaccine effectiveness will be as low as 10% this year?

It is important to note that those reports are not based on flu activity in the United States and it has been a long time since we have seen flu vaccine effectiveness that low – the 2004-05 flu season. That was the year that because of a drifted A(H3N2) virus, “only 5% of viruses from study participants were well matched to vaccine strains.”

The 10% number is instead based on reports of Australia’s flu season, in which early estimates found that the A(H3N2) component of the flu vaccine was only 10% effective. Importantly, the overall vaccine effectiveness was much higher. Including other strains, the flu vaccine in Australia was at least 33% effective this past year.

“In the temperate regions of the Southern Hemisphere, influenza activity typically occurs during April – September.”

CDC on Influenza Prevention: Information for Travelers

Couldn’t we see a drifted A(H3N2) virus this year?

Sure, especially since an A(H3N2) virus will likely be the dominant strain, but so far “data indicate that currently circulating viruses have not undergone significant antigenic drift.”

“It is difficult to predict which influenza viruses will predominate in the 2017–18 influenza season; however, in recent past seasons in which A(H3N2) viruses predominated, hospitalizations and deaths were more common, and the effectiveness of the vaccine was lower.”

CDC on Update: Influenza Activity — United States, October 1–November 25, 2017

Again, it is too early to predict how effective the flu vaccine will be, but based on an undrifted H3N2 virus that is matched to the vaccine, you might expect an effectiveness between 30 to 40%.

It might be less if theories about egg-adapted mutations are true and are a factor this year.

“…some currently circulating A(H3N2) viruses are less similar to egg-adapted viruses used for production of the majority of U.S. influenza vaccines.”

CDC on Update: Influenza Activity — United States, October 1–November 25, 2017

It is also important to keep in mind that vaccine effectiveness numbers from Australia and the United States don’t always match up.

For example, in 2009, Australia reported an interim flu vaccine effectiveness of just 9%, but in the United States, the flu vaccine ended up being 56% effective! On the other hand, in 2014, the flu vaccine worked fairly well in Australia, but vaccine effectiveness was found to be just 19% in the United States.

Vaccine Effectiveness by Year
Australia United States
2007 60% 2007-08 37%
2008 NE 2008-09 41%
2009 7% 2009-10 56%
2010 73% 2010-11 60%
2011 48% 2011-12 47%
2012 44% 2012-13 49%
2013 55% 2013-14 52%
2014  50% 2014-15 19%
2015  ?% 2015-16 48%
2016  ?% 2016-17 42%
2017 33% 2017-18 ?%

What does all of this mean?

Not much.

“This season’s flu vaccine includes the same H3N2 vaccine component as last season, and most circulating H3N2 viruses that have been tested in the United States this season are still similar to the H3N2 vaccine virus. Based on this data, CDC believes U.S. VE estimates from last season are likely to be a better predictor of the flu vaccine benefits to expect this season against circulating H3N2 viruses in the United States. This is assuming minimal change to circulating H3N2 viruses. However, because it is early in the season, CDC flu experts cannot predict which flu viruses will predominate. Estimates of the flu vaccine’s effectiveness against circulating flu viruses in the United States will be available later in the season.”

CDC on Frequently Asked Flu Questions 2017-2018 Influenza Season

The reports about what happened in Australia should not have made headlines beyond Australia.

As you should get your family vaccinated if you haven’t yet.

The Flu Vaccine Works

Getting a flu vaccine has many benefits with few risks and can:

  • reduce your chances of getting the flu
  • reduce the chances that your newborn gets the flu if you get your flu shot while pregnant
  • lead to milder symptoms if you do get the flu
  • reduce your risk of being hospitalized
  • reduce your risk of dying from the flu

And while it isn’t perfect, getting a flu vaccine is certainly better than remaining unprotected and simply taking your chances that you won’t get the flu and complications from the flu.

What to Know About Flu Vaccine Effectiveness

Although the effectiveness of the flu vaccine varies from year to year, depending on how well matched the vaccine is to circulating flu virus strains, which strains are dominant, and whether they have drifted, it is always a good idea to get vaccinated and protected.

More on Flu Vaccine Effectiveness

Vaccines and the HAZMAT Team Myth

Do unused vaccines need to be disposed of as hazardous waste?

If you drop a vaccine vial and it breaks, do you need to call in a HAZMAT team to clean it up?

If a HAZMAT team shows up a pediatricians office, it is probably because someone got sick from fumes - from burned popcorn...
If a HAZMAT team shows up a pediatricians office, it is probably because someone got sick from fumes – from burned popcorn… Photo by Kathy Nellis Chastney

Have you heard any of these anti-vaccine myths?

Would you be scared to vaccinate your kids if you had?

Vaccines and the HAZMAT Team Myth

While spilling elemental or metallic mercury, like by breaking a mercury filled glass thermometer (about 500mg of mercury), could release dangerous mercury vapors that need to be cleaned up carefully, vaccines never contained this type of elemental mercury that could vaporize like that.

And the amount of thimerosal or ethylmercury that used to be contained in vaccines, before it was removed beginning in 2000, was very small, even in multi-dose vial of vaccines.

Believe it or not, kids used to play with metallic mercury...
Believe it or not, kids used to play with metallic mercury… Photo by Bionerd (CC BY 3.0)

While you should be concerned if you drop a fluorescent light bulb in front of your kids, you don’t have to be if someone drops a vaccine vial.

And that being said, you don’t have to call a HAZMAT team if you break a CFL or other mercury containing light bulb, even though they might contain about 4,000mcg of mercury. As a precaution, you just let the room air out for out 10 minutes and then you carefully clean it up.

You don’t even have to call a HAZMAT team if you break a mercury thermometer, which can contain up to about 500,000mcg of mercury! Just let the area air out and then follow instructions to carefully clean it up.

How much mercury is in a typical multi-dose vaccine vial?

None.

But those that still contain thimerosal can contain up to 250mcg of ethylmercury per 10 dose vial. That’s about 6% of the amount of mercury that is in the light bulb (and 0.05% of the amount in the thermometer) and it is mixed with other ingredients, so you don’t have to worry about it being released as a mercury vapor.

And since you don’t have to call a HAZMAT team for the much larger quantities of metallic mercury in light bulbs and thermometers, why would you ever think you would have to for vaccine vials, which don’t even contain metallic mercury that can become a vapor that you can inhale?!?

Vaccines as Hazardous Waste

But if you don’t need a HAZMAT team, then how do you get rid of unused vaccines?

“In general, most empty vaccine vials are not considered hazardous or pharmaceutical waste and do not require disposal in a biomedical waste container. However, requirements for medical waste disposal are regulated by state environmental agencies so you should contact your immunization program or state environmental agency to ensure that your disposal procedures are in compliance with state and federal regulations.”

CDC on Vaccine Storage and Handling

It depends.

Still, most can be thrown away as medical waste.

Those that contain a preservative, like thimerosal, usually need to be thrown away in a hazardous waste container and disposed of through a hazardous waste disposal company.

Hazardous waste? Wait, doesn’t that mean HAZMAT?

No, but that’s where the myth likely comes from. Remember, you’re not supposed to throw out old CFLs in the trash either.

In the real world, most unused vaccines that are expired are simply returned to the manufacturer.

While having to deal with a hazardous waste disposal company sounds like a big deal, it is important to remember that almost all vaccines are now preservative free. The flu shot may still contain thimerosal, but the great majority,  at least 130 million doses, were preservative free this year.

So, few pediatricians likely have to deal with vaccines with preservatives or hazardous waste disposal companies. And hopefully they don’t have any old mercury thermometers lying around either.

That just leaves these myths about vaccines which never seem to go away…

What to Know About Vaccines and the HAZMAT Team Myth

Having to call a HAZMAT team to clean up after a broken vaccine vial is another myth about vaccines that is simply meant to scare you away from vaccinating and protecting your kids.

More on Vaccines and the HAZMAT Team Myth

100 Myths About Vaccines

Are there really 100 myths about vaccines that folks push to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids?

To make a long story short - flu vaccines don't contain a vaginal spermicide.
That flu vaccines contain a vaginal spermicide is a new myth being pushed by anti-vaccine folks.

Let’s see…

Actually, when you start to think about it, there are hundreds, as the modern anti-vaccine movement moves the goalposts and continuously comes up with new anti-vaccine talking points.

100 Myths About Vaccines

  1. My intentionally unvaccinated kids don’t put your kids at risk. – Of course they do, because some kids are too young to be vaccinated or fully vaccinated, some kids can’t be vaccinated, including those with immune system problems, and vaccines don’t work 100% of the time.
  2. Vaccines do cause autism. It’s the MMR vaccine. – Of all the competing theories of how vaccines are associated with autism (even though they aren’t), Wakefield‘s theory that it is the combined MMR vaccine was the first.
  3. Recently vaccinated kids shed virus for weeks or months and can infect unvaccinated kids. – While shedding is real for some live vaccines, like oral polio and rotavirus, it is rarely a problem.
  4. Vaccines don’t even work. – While some folks are worried about risks and side effects, others don’t even believe that vaccines work – ever. That’s understandable though, as it explains how they deal with the cognitive dissonance of leaving their kids unprotected from potentially life-threatening vaccine-preventable diseases. So instead of vaccines eradicating or controlling diseases, they come up with theories about improved sanitation and better nutrition doing all of the work. But of course, we know that vaccines work.
  5. It’s good to get measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases. – While some people think that getting measles and polio was once a welcome rite of passage for kids, they seem to forget that vaccine-preventable diseases are life-threatening and can leave survivors with serious disabilities.
  6. The shingles vaccine causes shingles. – The shingles vaccine won’t cause you to develop shingles, but if you got it and never had chicken pox, then like the chicken pox vaccine, it is thought that the shingles vaccine could theoretically cause a latent infection that reactivates = shingles.
  7. Vaccines do cause autism. It’s thimerosal. – Vaccines are not associated with autism.
  8. Getting too many vaccines too soon can overwhelm an infant’s immature immune system. Not true. Considering all of the germs that they are challenged with on a daily basis, it is easy to see that an infant’s immune system can handle all of the vaccines on the immunization and much more.
  9. Package inserts for vaccines admit that they cause autism. – While Tripedia, a DTaP vaccine that was discontinued in 2011, did list autism in the adverse reactions section part of the package insert, it also stated that “it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequencies or to establish a causal relationship.”
  10. Vaccines aren’t safe because the package insert says that they aren’t evaluated for mutagenicity, carcinogenicity and impairment of fertility. – All necessary pre-clinical or nonclinical testing is done on vaccines and their components.
  11. Big Pharma, or the pharmaceutical industry, is the one making all of the decisions about vaccines, including what goes in them, when you should get them, and deciding if they are really safe. – Of course there is no world-wide conspiracy about vaccines led by the pharmaceutical industry that involves doctors, health departments, the CDC, and the WHO, etc.
  12. Vaccines still contain mercury. The Kennedy Vaccine Gambit
  13. Antifreeze is a toxic ingredient in vaccines. – Antifreeze (ethylene glycol) is not, and has never been an ingredient in vaccines. Some vaccines do contain a similar sounding ingredient, 2-phenoxyethanol, but it isn’t antifreeze. Saying that some vaccines contain an ingredient that sounds like antifreeze isn’t as scary though.
  14. Alternative immunization schedules are better. The Bob Sears Snare
  15. Vaccines contain aborted fetal tissue. – While some vaccines are made with fetal embryo fibroblast cells from cell lines that are derived (the original cells have been copied over and over again) from two electively terminated pregnancies in the 1960s, the cells are removed from the final vaccine and no aborted fetal tissue is in any vaccine.
  16. Many people don’t vaccinate. – There is a very vocal minority of people who do their best to push misinformation and conspiracy theories about vaccines and vaccine dangers, but except for pockets of susceptibles and clusters of unvaccinated kids and adults, most people are vaccinated.
  17. The CDC says that you should stop breastfeeding to boost vaccine efficacy. – They have never said that. Neither has the WHO or any other group of experts. This myth about breastfeeding relates to a study done that suggested that delaying breastfeeding for an hour after getting the rotavirus vaccine might help it work better in developing countries.
  18. Vaccines aren’t tested. – Vaccines are well tested for both safety and efficacy before they are approved and are added to the immunization schedule.
  19. Herd immunity isn’t real. – Understanding just how wrong anti-vaccine folks are about herd immunity will help you go a long way towards understanding how they get most things about vaccines wrong. Herd immunity from vaccines is real.
  20. Vaccines are contaminated with brain-eating ameobas. – Viera Scheibner is a micropaleontologist who claims that that it is ‘well-established’ that vaccines are contaminated with amoebas. They aren’t.
  21. I have a link arsenal from Pubmed that show vaccines are dangerous. – PubMed is simply an index of articles in medical journals. Any medical journals, even they predatory, pay to publish medical journals. Being in Pubmed doesn’t mean that it is a good study. And cherry picking articles and abstracts from Pubmed doesn’t mean that you have done your research about vaccines or that you have found any proof that vaccines aren’t safe. It probably just means that you need to do a little more research.
  22. The vaccine schedule has ballooned since 1983 and kids now get too many shots! – While the vaccine schedule has certainly grown over time, that is simply because kids today are protected from many more diseases. While kids got fewer vaccines in 1983, that was also the pre-vaccine era for Hib, hepatitis B, pneumococcal disease, meningococcal disease, rotavirus, hepatitis A, HPV, and chicken pox, etc.
  23. Package inserts for vaccines admit that they cause SIDS. – Tripedia, a DTaP vaccine that was discontinued in 2011, does list SIDS in the adverse reactions section part of the package insert, but also states that “it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequencies or to establish a causal relationship.”
  24. The US has higher infant mortality rates than other industrialized countries because we give more vaccines. – Higher infant mortality rate in the US than some other industrialized countries are thought to be because we use different methods to calculate the infant mortality rate. They are also at the lowest level ever.
  25. MSG is a toxic ingredient in vaccines. – MSG is an ingredient in some vaccines, but it is safe and not toxic.
  26. Since adults don’t get vaccines or boosters, there can’t be herd immunity. – Most adults either already have natural immunity or have already been vaccinated, so this isn’t true. There are actually very few booster shots that adults need, but seniors do need a few extra vaccines.
  27. Sick people can just stay home, so it doesn’t matter if they are vaccinated. – That’s kind of how quarantines work, but the main problem with this theory is that with many diseases, including some that are the most contagious, you can actually be contagious even before you show symptoms and you know you are sick. That’s why they often talk about people being at school, on the train, shopping at Walmart, or even at the beach when they have measles and have exposed others in an outbreak.
  28. The media just scares people about outbreaks. – The media, with their vaccine scare stories, did once influence a lot of parents about vaccines, but it was more to make them afraid to get their kids vaccinated and protected. Alerting people of an outbreak in their area isn’t a scare tactic or hype. It is one of the ways to help control outbreaks, so that folks know when a disease is present in their community.
  29. Vaccinations are not immunizations. – While kind of catchy, like other anti-vaccine slogans, it is meaningless. Vaccines work.
  30. There is no Pharma liability. You can’t sue if a child is injured by a vaccine. – You can sue, you just have to go through Vaccine Court first.
  31. Many religions are against vaccines. – Very few religions actually object to immunizations, which makes it very surprising how many folks get religious vaccine exemptions.
  32. Measles and other vaccine preventable diseases aren’t that serious anymore. – They, of course, can still be life-threatening, even in this day of modern medicine.
  33. Over 99% of vaccine side effects from vaccines are not reported by doctors to VAERS. – That’s not really true. Although most common side effects probably are underreported, more moderate and serious side effects are reported. For example, one study found that while a rash after measles, a known mild, side effect, was not commonly reported, vaccine-associated polio was often reported to VAERS. It is also imported to keep in mind that VAERS isn’t the only way that the safety of vaccines is monitored.
  34. Many experts are against vaccines. – The so-called experts of the anti-vaccine movement are mostly doctors who are practicing way out of their field of expertise, including many who are not medical doctors, or whose ideas are not supported by the great majority of real experts on vaccines, infectious disease, and immunology.
  35. Vaccinated kids cause most outbreaks. – Not true. Although vaccines don’t always work 100% of the time and so vaccinated kids sometimes get caught up in outbreaks, they are not the cause of most outbreaks.
  36. Infants have an immature immune system and are too young to be vaccinated. – Not true. Although a baby’s immune system is immature, as compared to older kids and adults, vaccines work well to help protect them as their immune system continues to develop and mature.
  37. Vaccines cause shaken baby syndrome. – Vaccines do not cause shaken baby syndrome.
  38. The chicken pox vaccine has caused an epidemic of shingles. – Not true. It has been shown that the rise in shingles cases started before we started routinely giving chicken pox vaccines, did not continue to increase after we started routinely giving chicken pox vaccines, and also increased in countries that don’t give the chicken pox vaccines.
  39. The United States gives more vaccines than any other country. – While there would be nothing wrong with that, as it would mean we were protecting our kids from more vaccine-preventable diseases, if you take any time to look at the immunization schedules from other countries, you can see it isn’t true.
  40. Pediatricians can get up to $3 million in bonuses for vaccinating kids. – Pediatricians are not getting big bonuses, bribes, or kickbacks to vaccinate kids.
  41. Glyphosate is contaminating our vaccines and will help make 50% kids autistic by 2025. – Glyphosate is not in vaccines and Stephanie Seneff‘s theory that 1/2 of kids will be autistic in 8 years doesn’t make much sense either.
  42. Formaldehyde is a toxic ingredient in vaccines. – While formaldehyde is an ingredient in vaccines, it is also naturally found in all of our bodies and in some foods. The formaldehyde in vaccines is not toxic.
  43. Vaccines aren’t tested together. – Yes, they are. Pediarix (combo vaccine with DTaP, hepB, and IPV) was tested with Hib and Prevnar and the hepatitis A vaccine was tested together with DTaP, IPV, Hib, and hepatitis B. Most vaccination combinations have been tested together, including the flu shot.
  44. I’m not anti-vaccine, I’m pro-safe vaccine. – You can call yourself whatever you want, either pro-safe vaccine or pro-vaccine choice, but if you push anti-vaccine propaganda, then you are anti-vaccine.
  45. It can be safer to wait to get vaccinated. The Jay Gordon Maneuver
  46. $3.5 billion in vaccine court payouts prove that vaccine injuries are real. – No one says that vaccines are 100% safe or that vaccine injuries aren’t real. It is also important to keep in mind that the $3.5 billion in vaccine court payouts have been since 1988, during which billions of doses of vaccines have been given.
  47. Vaccines cause resistance in viruses and bacteria. – Not true. Vaccines are not causing an increase in vaccine-resistant bacteria or viruses and can actually help us fight the growing problem of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
  48. Unvaccinated kids are healthier. – A large study has shown that unvaccinated kids are not healthier than those who are vaccinated, they just get more vaccine-preventable diseases.
  49. People never used to worry about measles. – A Brady Bunch episode about measles doesn’t mean that people weren’t worried about measles in the old days. There are plenty of newspaper headlines describing how measles epidemic once closed entire school districts for weeks at a time. When a measles epidemic hit New York City in 1951, a headline on the front page of the New York Times read “City in Grip of Measles Epidemic; Unusually Severe Siege Forecast.” And remember when Lassie had to save Timmy when he had measles? Sounds like they were worried…
  50. Epigenetics explains many vaccine injuries. – No, it doesn’t.
  51. The one-size-fits-all immunization schedule makes kids sick. – Vaccines are not given using any kind of one-size-fits-all policy. Flexibility of when some vaccines can be given and the existence of contraindications and medical exemptions make that clear to most people.
  52. Herd immunity doesn’t apply to vaccines. – Uh. Yes it does.
  53. Doctors don’t learn anything about vaccines. – Doctors learn a lot about vaccines and vaccine-preventable disease. What they do need to learn more about are the latest anti-vaccine talking points, so that they can readily address your concerns about vaccines and things that you might have read or heard that have scared you about vaccines.
  54. The American Academy of Pediatrics “recommends that parents use the availability of HPV vaccines to usher in a discussion on human sexuality in a way consistent with their culture and values at a time when they determine their child is ready to receive that information.” It’s a fringe group of pediatricians, the American College of Pediatricians who said this, not the AAP, who recommends that all kids get vaccinated and protected with the HPV vaccines.
  55. Vaccines are made for adults, not kids. – Vaccines are made for both kids and adults. Some vaccines even have different formulations for kids than for adults, including hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and flu shots, etc. And think about how the DTaP (kids) and Tdap (teens and adults) shots are different, but protect against the same diseases. But vaccines work locally, where the shot was given, which is why it doesn’t really matter that kids or adults of different sizes get the same dose.
  56. The HPV vaccine just encourages kids to have sex. – Studies have confirmed that HPV vaccines are safe and they don’t encourage kids to unprotected sex, one of many HPV vaccine myths.
  57. Aluminum replaced thimerosal as the latest toxic ingredient in vaccines. – Aluminum in vaccines is not toxic and as an adjuvant, it did not replace the thimerosal, a preservative, in any vaccines.
  58. Hepatitis B is a STD vaccine, so newborn babies don’t need it. – Tragically, many infants still get perinatal hepatitis B infections because of missed opportunities to get vaccinated and when they are exposed in non-high risk situations. Don’t skip your baby’s hepatitis B shot.
  59. Correlation equals causation. – Many people think that their child is vaccine injured because they showed symptoms right around the time they received a vaccine. They correlate getting the vaccine with causing the vaccine injury. The correct phrase isn’t correlation equals causation though, it is “correlation does not imply causation. Just because two things seem to be related by time doesn’t mean that one caused the other.
  60. SV40 contamination of vaccines causes cancer. – While the SV40 virus did contaminate some early vaccines, it has been shown that this contamination did not cause cancer.
  61. Dr. Julie Gerberding, the first woman to lead the CDC, admitted that vaccines cause autism during an interview with Sanjay Gupta on CNN. – While discussing the Hannah Polling decision, Dr. Julie Gerberding did not say that vaccines can cause autism. She even went out of her way to mention all of the studies that “have concluded that there really is no association between vaccines and autism.”
  62. Vaccines don’t work to get rid of any diseases. They just make the diseases disappear by changing their names. – This has to be one of the silliest myths about vaccines. Yes, some folks believe that smallpox wasn’t eradicated. It was instead renamed to monkeypox. Polio became acute flaccid paralysis. And measles became roseola. Of course, that didn’t happen because vaccines do work.
  63. The first deaf Miss America suffered a vaccine injury. – Not true. While they initially blamed her being deaf on the DTP vaccine, it turns out that she had a reaction to the antibiotic Gentamycin that she was receiving for a Hib infection, a now vaccine-preventable disease.
  64. Diane Harper was a lead researcher for the HPV vaccine who came out against the HPV vaccines. – Diane Harper‘s comments about the HPV vaccine have been overblown and mischaracterized. She supports the HPV vaccines and believes that they are safe.
  65. Vaccines don’t work against pertactin-negative pertussis bacteria. – While we are finding more pertactin-negative pertussis bacteria, this doesn’t seem to be why we are seeing more pertussis or whooping cough. Pertussis vaccines work against other components of the pertussis bacteria besides pertactin and pertussis vaccines continue to be effective against pertactin-negative Bordetella pertussis bacteria.
  66. There are graphs and charts that prove that vaccines didn’t save us and that vaccines don’t work – Those mortality graphs are pure propaganda and do not show how cases of vaccine preventable diseases (morbidity) were not affected by overall improvements in mortality rates in the early 20th century (a lot of people still got sick even as more of them survived) or how the effects of improved sanitation, nutrition, and health care peaked by the 1940s (for example, they use death rates instead of just absolute numbers of deaths to hide the fact that measles killed about 400 people each year in 1960).  Vaccines work.
  67. Johns Hopkins warns cancer patients to avoid children who were recently vaccinated. – They did once, but Johns Hopkins and other hospitals updated their instructions as new information became available. Hospitals no longer warn patients about restricting exposure to people who have recently been vaccinated.
  68. Andrew Wakefield was proven right. – Wakefield has not been proven right. Studies have never confirmed his findings. He is still not allowed to practice medicine in the UK.
  69. The shocking revelations of the CDC Whistleblower proves that vaccines cause autism. – What was supposed to be the biggest anti-vaccine conspiracy story of all time, the CDC Whistleblower, must have been the biggest let down for the anti-vaccine movement. He didn’t really blow the whistle on anything or anyone and didn’t even appear in Vaxxed, the CDC Whistleblower movie! While being secretly recorded, he basically complained about the way his coauthors of a study on vaccines and autism dealt with some data that he felt was statistically significant.
  70. The Leicester Method proves that good sanitation and quarantines – not the smallpox vaccine – eradicated smallpox. – In addition to quarantines, they used vaccines in Leicester. They just didn’t use universal vaccination. They used ring vaccination – making sure all of the contacts of the person with smallpox got a smallpox vaccine. The Leicester Method of dealing with smallpox does not support the idea that smallpox was eradicated solely with good sanitation and quarantining folks with smallpox.
  71. That vaccines have been legally called unavoidably unsafe means that they are dangerous. – Not true.
  72. Vaccinating a child is like taking a child out of their perfectly functioning carseat and strapping them into a seat with dental floss. – Actually, the proper analogy would be that vaccinating a child is like protecting them with an age appropriate car seat. Skipping or delaying your child’s vaccines is like driving them around without a car seat or seat belts, so that they are unprotected if you get in a car accident.
  73. The HPV vaccine isn’t safe, isn’t even necessary, and is probably the most dangerous vaccine every made. – Of course this is not true. Fortunately, more and more parents are coming to understand that the over-the-top anti-vaccine rhetoric about the HPV vaccine isn’t true. The HPV vaccines are safe and necessary and they work to prevent cancer.
  74. Parents are losing their choice about vaccines and are being forced to vaccinate their kids. – While slogans about choice are catchy, new vaccine laws and mandates do not force anyone to get vaccinated.
  75. Vaccines cause ADHD. – Yes, you can add ADHD to the long list of so-called vaccine-induced diseases, but like the others, it isn’t true. Vaccines do not cause ADHD.
  76. Polio epidemics were caused by spraying of the pesticide DDT. – The only connection between DDT and polio is that some folks were so scared of polio, that once an outbreak came to town, because they didn’t know what caused it yet, they sprayed with DDT thinking it might be spread by mosquitoes. So polio first and then DDT spraying.
  77. You should skip or delay vaccinating your premature baby. – Except in some situations when preterm babies weigh less than 2000g and mom is known to be hepatitis B negative, your preterm baby should be vaccinated according to the standard immunization schedule.
  78. There are no double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized clinical trials for vaccines. – Placebos are used in many vaccine trials and there are many double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized clinical trials for vaccines.
  79. Homeopathic vaccines are a safe and effective alternative to real vaccines. – While they might not cause many side effects, homeopathic vaccines or nosodes aren’t going to do much else either. They certainly aren’t going to protect your child from any vaccine-preventable diseases.
  80. You should follow a Paleo vaccine schedule. – Like other non-standard, parent-selected, delayed protection vaccine schedules, the Paleo vaccine schedule is a made-up alternative to the standard immunization schedule and will leave your kids unprotected from vaccine-preventative diseases.
  81. People who are anti-vaccine don’t hurt autistic families. – While I’m sure they tell themselves that, in addition to pushing the idea that autistic kids are damaged by vaccines, there are many other ways that the anti-vaccine movement hurts autistic families.
  82. Vegans don’t vaccinate their kids. – While there are few vegan vaccines, most vegans do indeed vaccinate their kids.
  83. The measles vaccine doesn’t protect against all measles strains. – All currently used measles containing vaccines, including the MMR vaccine, do actually protect against all measles strains. 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.
  84. There are over 100 vaccine/autism research papers that prove that vaccines cause autism. – No matter how high the count of research papers gets to, they still don’t support a link between vaccines and autism.
  85. The anti-vaccine movement is supported by science and research. – The beliefs of the anti-vaccine movement, from germ theory denialism to ideas about detoxing and chemtrails, are only supported by pseudoscience and conspiracy theories.
  86. A tetanus shot won’t help after you have already been cut, stabbed, or bitten. – Well, if you are fully vaccinated, you might not even need a tetanus shot after a cut, because you are already protected. If you are unvaccinated or if it has been more than 5 years since your last shot, a tetanus shot and tetanus immune globulin will indeed work to protect against tetanus spores germinating, growing and producing their exotoxin that produces the symptoms of tetanus.
  87. Vaccine immunity isn’t long lasting. – While that is true for some vaccines, vaccines do protect you during critical times, in most cases they do provide long lasting protection.
  88. Immigrants and refugees are spreading disease in the United States and are putting us at risk for a new pandemic disease outbreak. – Immigrants and refugees are not spreading disease in the United States.
  89. Parents have to pay the Vaccine Excise Tax to fund the Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund. – The Vaccine Excise Tax is actually a tax that the U.S. Department of the Treasury collects from vaccine manufacturers.
  90. Pediatricians are just vaccine pushers. – If that were true, then how come pediatricians don’t push all of the FDA approved vaccines on kids, such as the adenovirus vaccine, BCG vaccine, typhoid vaccine, or yellow fever vaccine?
  91. Chiropractors aren’t anti-vaccine. – Maybe some aren’t, but most chiropractors seem to believe in germ theory denialism, push anti-vaccine talking points, and don’t vaccinate their own kids.
  92. There are 300 new vaccines in the pipeline. – While new vaccines are always being researched and developed, we are not getting 300 new vaccines anytime soon. At least 1/3 of those are therapeutic vaccines for cancer. And 1/4 are for the same four infectious diseases – HIV, flu, RSV, and Ebola. So no, we aren’t getting 300 new vaccines.
  93. Most celebrities don’t vaccinate their kids. – While anti-vaccine celebrities seem to make the news a lot, there are many celebrities who advocate for vaccines.
  94. Breastfeeding is better than vaccines at preventing infections. – While breastfeeding is great and has a lot of benefits, including providing some passive immunity, it won’t protect your child from most vaccine-preventable diseases. Breastmilk contains IgA antibodies, and not the IgG antibodies that vaccines trigger in our bodies and which do cross the placenta and protect our babies for a short time. Breastmilk can help protect a child against some viruses and bacteria that cause diarrhea and respiratory infections, but it is not better than vaccines at preventing vaccine-preventable diseases.
  95. Ingredients in vaccines are toxic because they are injected directly into a child’s bloodstream and aren’t ingested and filtered by the body’s natural defenses. – The ingested vs injected argument comes up a lot, but doesn’t make much sense. For one thing, vaccines aren’t injected into the bloodstream.
  96. I used Google University to research vaccines, just like other medical professionals use google to look up medical information. – While it is true that many medical professionals are likely turning to the internet more than textbooks when they need to look something up, they are often using online medical textbooks or other reputable sites. They aren’t cherry picking information from sites that simply confirm their biases against vaccines.
  97. Vaccines aren’t tested for use in pregnancy. – They are and pregnant women should get a seasonal flu vaccine and a Tdap vaccine each and every pregnancy.
  98. DNA in vaccines can cause autism. – While highly fragmented (mostly destroyed) DNA has been found in some vaccines, it can’t cause harm.
  99. The Amish don’t get autism. – The Amish do get autism. They also do vaccinate – sometimes. They also get vaccine-preventable diseases as we saw in the large Ohio measles outbreak of 2014.
  100. The flu shot contains a vaginal spermicide. – It doesn’t.

Get educated about vaccines so you don’t get taken in by any of these myths.

Vaccines work. Vaccines are safe. Vaccines are necessary.

More On Vaccine Myths

 

Does the flu shot contain a vaginal spermicide?

Many of us are used to hear some far out claims from anti-vaccine folks?

And most of us understand that none of them are true.

There is no antifreeze in vaccines.

And while many vaccines may contain aluminum, formaldehyde, albumin, gelatin, antibiotics, polysorbate 80, and yeast proteins, these are not toxic or dangerous.

Why are those ingredients in a vaccine?

They might be used as an adjuvant, inactivating ingredient, preservative, stabilizer, or as a growth medium.

Does the flu shot contain a vaginal spermicide?

The latest scare story from anti-vaccine folks is that flu shots contain a vaginal spermicide.

Now why would a vaginal spermicide be needed in a vaccine?

To make a long story short - flu vaccines don't contain a vaginal spermicide.
To make a long story short – flu vaccines don’t contain a vaginal spermicide.

It wouldn’t.

Anti-vaccine folks who have exposed are spreading this misinformation have confused octoxynol-9, a vaginal spermicide, with octoxynol-10, an ingredient in vaccines.

Aren’t they the same thing?

While both are a type of Triton X-100 nonionic surfactant, as you likely suspect, they are different. And that’s where the confusion sets in.

“Nonionic surfactant mixtures varying in the number of repeating ethoxy (oxy-1,2-ethanediyl) groups. They are used as detergents, emulsifiers, wetting agents, defoaming agents, etc. Octoxynol-9, the compound with 9 repeating ethoxy groups, is a spermatocide.”

PubChem on Triton X-100

In contrast to octoxynol-9, the compound octoxynol-10 has 10 repeating ethoxy groups.

Octoxynol-10 in Flu Vaccines

Octoxynol-10, which is also known as octylphenol ethoxylate, is a surfactant that is used in some flu vaccines in a 1% concentration to help further inactivate and then “split” the inactivated influenza virus that will ultimately be used in the vaccines.

“The majority of marketed seasonal influenza vaccines are prepared using viruses that are chemically inactivated and treated with a surfactant. Treating with surfactants has important consequences: it produces ‘split viruses’ by solubilizing viral membranes, stabilizes free membrane proteins and ensures a low level of reactogenicity while retaining high vaccine potency.”

Lee et all on Quantitative determination of the surfactant-induced split ratio of influenza virus by fluorescence spectroscopy.

A “low level of reactogenicity” means less side effects. That’s good.

Octoxynol-10 also acts as a stabilizer.

Like many other non-active ingredients, it is mostly filtered out from the final vaccine product.

How much is left?

Only residual amounts.

In Fluzone, it is reported to be at a maximum amount of ≤250 mcg per dose.

Do you know the dose of octoxynol-9 that was used in vaginal spermicides? At least 50mg (one applicator full), inserted vaginally before sex. Keep in mind that since they don’t protect against STD’s, they are typically used in combination with other forms of birth control.

What to Know About Octoxynol-10 in Flu Vaccines

Octoxynol-10 is an important ingredient of flu vaccines and is mostly filtered out of the final vaccine.

More About Octoxynol-10 in Flu Vaccines