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50 Ways to Get Educated About Vaccines

A Board of Health quarantine poster warning that the premises are contaminated by smallpox.
Have you ever seen a quarantine sign for smallpox on someone’s home? That’s because Vaccines Work!

Have questions about vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases?

Think you have done enough research already?

If that research has you asking for package inserts and requesting low aluminum vaccines, then you might need to rethink how you have been doing your research.

Get Educated About Vaccines

Vaccines are safe, effective, and necessary.

They aren’t full of toxins.

They have been tested together.

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.

50 Ways To Get Educated About Vaccines

So before deciding to skip or delay any of your child’s vaccines, do some real research about vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases and:

  1. Understand the Pseudoscience Behind the Anti-Vaccine Movement
  2. Review the contraindications to vaccines and even more common, the things commonly misperceived as contraindications
  3. Examine the evidence for the safety of vaccines
  4. Get answers to the 9 Questions For The Pro-Vaxers
  5. Know that Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism
  6. Read about these Five Things I’ve Learned About Vaccines Through 21 Years of Parenting
  7. Learn the Tactics and Tropes of the Anti-vaccine Movement
  8. Know that kids do not get too many vaccines too soon and that vaccines don’t overwhelm your child’s immune system
  9. Understand these Vaccine Safety Basics
  10. Don’t listen to these anti-vaccine celebrities
  11. Get the details of Andrew Wakefield’s fraud
  12. Study why those Graphs That Show Vaccines Don’t Work are just propaganda
  13. Know that you can’t hide your kids in the herd to avoid disease
  14. Read why “Spacing Out” Vaccines Doesn’t Make Them Safer
  15. Wonder why parents misuse religious exemptions to excuse kids from vaccines
  16. See the evidence that Flu Shots Work for Kids Under Two
  17. Review these questions and answers on immunization and vaccine safety
  18. Learn Why My Child With Autism Is Fully Vaccinated
  19. Know that You Can Be the Pro-Life Parent of a Fully Vaccinated Child
  20. See how Having a baby doesn’t change the facts on vaccines
  21. Question Vaccine Injury Stories: the Sacred Cows of the Internet
  22. Read An Open Letter to Expecting Parents and Parents Yet-To-Be about Vaccinating
  23. Know that there is No Clear Evidence that Vaccines Cause Autism
  24. Learn from those who have Left the Anti-Vaccine Movement
  25. Understand why you’re wrong if you think the flu vax gives you the flu
  26. Avoid Cashing In On Fear: The Danger of Dr. Sears
  27. Realize that Almost All Religions Support Immunizations
  28. Learn which vaccines are the most important to get
  29. See that Unvaccinated Children Can Have Autism Too
  30. View Personal Stories of Families Affected by Vaccine-Preventable Diseases
  31. Know who is at risk if you don’t vaccinate your kids
  32. Read about the most common Misconceptions about Vaccines
  33. Review the Benefits vs. Risks of getting vaccinated
  34. Learn about the Ingredients in Vaccines
  35. Realize that vaccines are carefully monitored for safety, even after they have been approved, and it isn’t just by folks reporting side effects to VAERS
  36. Know that those 124 Research Papers Supporting the Vaccine/Autism Link Really Don’t
  37. Understand what Vaccine Package Inserts really do and don’t tell you
  38. See why the CDC Whistleblower really has no whistle to blow
  39. Know that the Vaccine Court did not say that vaccines cause autism
  40. What to consider if Deciding whether to alter the immunization schedule
  41. Learn why Shedding from Vaccines isn’t a danger to your kids
  42. Review even more Misconceptions about Immunizations
  43. Understand The Science Behind Vaccine Research and Testing
  44. Know that your Unvaccinated Child isn’t going to be Healthier than Vaccinated Kids
  45. Realize just how important the HPV vaccine really is
  46. Learn How to Respond to Inaccurate Posts about Vaccines on Social Media
  47. Know that vaccines are studied in pregnant women
  48. See the real dangers in following Jenny McCarthy’s advice
  49. Know that VAERS reports are often misused and understand that parents can report suspected adverse events to VAERS themselves
  50. Fill out a screening questionnaire for contraindications to vaccines

Still have questions? Read one or more of these Vaccine Books

And talk to your doctor about your concerns about vaccines.

Get Educated. Get Vaccinated.

More Ways To Get Educated About Vaccines

These websites and blogs will also help you get educated about vaccines and research any addition questions you might have:

Vaccine Allergies

The Cervarix HPV vaccine lists latex as an ingredient - in the tip caps.
Cervarix tip caps contain natural rubber latex and can be a problem if your child has an anaphylactic reaction to latex.

Can you be allergic to a vaccine?

Of course.

In fact, having a severe, life-threatening allergy to a vaccine is one of the main reasons to not get vaccinated.

Specifically, guidelines usually state that you should not get vaccinated:

  • if you have a severe allergy to any component of the vaccine
  • if you have had had a serious allergic reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine

Fortunately, these types of serious allergic reactions are very rare. In fact, most kids with egg allergies can even get a flu shot, something unheard of just a few years ago.

How rare?

The WHO states that “The rate of anaphylaxis has been documented to be variable, with a rate of 3.5 to 10 per million doses following a measles-containing vaccine.”

Rates of 0.65 to 1.53 cases per million doses have also been reported when including more commonly used vaccines.

Vaccine Allergy Myths

Still, instead of true vaccine allergies leading to problems, it is much more common for misinformation about vaccine allergies to scare parents away from getting their kids vaccinated.

Some of the most common vaccine allergy myths include that:

  • you can’t get vaccinated if you have a history of a penicillin allergy, cephalosporin allergy, or sulfa drug allergy – you can
  • you can’t get vaccinated if you have non-vaccine allergies, have relatives with allergies, or are receiving allergy shots – you can
  • you can’t get vaccinated if you have a latex allergy that is not anaphylactic – you can
  • you can’t get the MMR vaccine if you have an egg allergy – you can
  • you can’t get the flu vaccine if you have an egg allergy – you can, although your pediatrician will observe your child for 30 minutes if he has a severe egg allergy
  • vaccines are causing a peanut allergy epidemic – they aren’t and you can get vaccinated if you have a peanut allergy.

And know that vaccines don’t actually cause allergies.

Allergies and Vaccine Components

Components of vaccines can rarely trigger allergic reactions, including:

  • antibiotics – but these aren’t antibiotics that are commonly used anymore, like Amoxil. Instead, some vaccines contain residual amounts of either gentamicin, neomycin, polymyxin B, or streptomycin. And anyway, the small amounts that could be leftover in the vaccine aren’t known to trigger allergic reactions.
  • eggs – while your child with an egg allergy can get the flu shot, and then being observed as a precaution, the yellow fever vaccine could still be an issue
  • gelatin – some vaccines use gelatin, like in Jell-O, as a stabilizer
  • latex – if your child has a severe (anaphylactic) allergy to latex, you should likely avoid vaccines supplied in vials or syringes that contain natural rubber latex
  • yeast – although they aren’t thought to be an issue for kids with yeast allergies, a few vaccines can have residual amounts of yeast in them

What about aluminum? Some recent studies, including one in Pediatrics, “Case Report of Subcutaneous Nodules and Sterile Abscesses Due to Delayed Type Hypersensitivity to Aluminum-Containing Vaccines,” do suggest that aluminum can very rarely cause a non-anaphylactic delayed type IV hypersensitivity reaction. These children could have persistent redness and nodules at the site of vaccination for weeks or months when an aluminum containing vaccine is given.

Fortunately, these are mild, non-life-threatening reactions and aren’t a reason to stop vaccinating your child. And, as another study reported, “Unexpected loss of contact allergy to aluminum induced by vaccine,” many of these children outgrow their allergy.

Keep in mind that persistent hard nodules can also be caused by irritation and may not be an allergic reaction at all.

What To Know About Vaccine Allergies

The 2011 IOM report, “Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality,” while concluding that most vaccines, including MMR, varicella, flu, hepatitis B, tetanus, meningococcal, and HPV could cause anaphylaxis,  stated that “It appears likely to the committee that the risk of anaphylaxis caused by vaccines is exceedingly low in the general population.”

Do you think that your child has an allergy keeping him from getting vaccinated?

Talk to your pediatrician or a pediatric allergist. They can review the “Algorithm for treatment of patients with hypersensitivity reactions after vaccines,” which “provides a rational and organized approach for the evaluation and treatment of patients with suspected hypersensitivity.”

This is especially important if you think that your child is allergic to all vaccines, something that is almost unheard of, as vaccines have different components and are made in different ways.

For More Information on Vaccine Allergies

Vaccines and Egg Allergies

Which vaccines do you have to skip if you are allergic to eggs?

Many people are surprised that the answer is that you probably don’t have to skip any vaccines.

Although some vaccines are made in eggs and may contain residual egg proteins, the latest studies show that they can safely be given to kids with egg allergies.

That wasn’t always the case though.

Some pediatricians and parents likely still remember when the recommendation for the MMR vaccine was that:

  • Persons with a history of anaphylactic reactions (hives, swelling of the mouth and throat, difficulty in breathing, hypotension, and shock) following egg ingestion should be vaccinated only with extreme caution.(1989 MMR recommendation)

Of course, now, experts say that “Although measles and mumps components of the vaccine are grown in chick embryo fibroblast tissue culture, allergy to egg is not a contraindication to vaccination.”

Similarly, the warnings and recommendations about egg allergies and flu vaccines have changes over the years. From previous warnings about avoiding the flu vaccine, experts now say that:

  • Persons with a history of egg allergy who have experienced only hives after exposure to egg should receive flu vaccine.
  • Persons with a history of a severe egg allergy can still get a flu vaccine, but they should be vaccinated “in an inpatient or outpatient medical setting (including, but not necessarily limited to hospitals, clinics, health departments, and physician offices). Vaccine administration should be supervised by a health care provider who is able to recognize and manage severe allergic conditions.”

Recommendations about the yellow fever vaccine haven’t changed though. Talk to your pediatrician if your child has an egg allergy and needs the yellow fever vaccine for travel. You will likely need to see an allergist to get vaccinated.

For More Information on Vaccines and Egg Allergies:

 

References for Vaccines and Egg Allergies:
Measles Prevention: Recommendations of the Immunization Practices Advisory Committee (ACIP) . December 29, 1989 / 38(S-9);1-18.

Fetal Bovine Serum in Vaccines

Are you worried about fetal bovine serum in vaccines?

Are you wondering why they put fetal bovine serum in vaccines?

Well, it is not really added to the vaccine, like a preservative.

Instead, the CDC explains why fetal bovine serum may be in some vaccines:

In the manufacture of viral vaccines, the virus may be grown in cells.  These cells need a source of nutrition, which in some instances may be provided by fetal bovine serum.

So fetal bovine serum is used as a growth media. And it is eventually removed.

There is no risk that using these materials from cows could cause mad-cow disease.

For more information:

Latex Allergies and Vaccines

Can you get vaccines if you have a latex allergy?

“Dry, natural rubber is used in the tip of syringe plungers, the tip on prefilled syringes, vial stoppers,” and could cause a problem for some people with latex allergies.

According to the CDC:

If a person reports a severe (anaphylactic) allergy to latex, vaccines supplied in vials or syringes that contain natural rubber latex should not be administered unless the benefit of vaccination clearly outweighs the risk for a potential allergic reaction. In these cases, providers should be prepared to treat patients who are having an allergic reaction.

For latex allergies other than anaphylactic allergies (e.g., a history of contact allergy to latex gloves), vaccines supplied in vials or syringes that contain dry, natural rubber or natural rubber latex may be administered.

Many vaccines use synthetic rubber or synthetic latex though, so getting vaccinated with one of these vaccines would be a good alternative if your child has a severe allergy to latex.

Keep in mind that you aren’t supposed to simply remove the latex stopper from a vaccine vial to try and avoid triggering an anaphylactic reaction. That did work for one patient in the case report “Anaphylaxis after hepatitis B vaccination.” She got her second dose using “rubber free technique” and didn’t have a reaction.

Still, latex allergies with vaccines doesn’t seem to be a big problem.

One study “Vaccination of persons allergic to latex: a review of safety data in the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS),” in the journal Vaccine “revealed only 28 cases of possible immediate-type hypersensitivity reactions in vaccine recipients with a history of allergy to latex.” And only two of those required hospitalization.

For more information:

Vaccines with Diluents

Many vaccines come in prefilled syringes or ready to use multi-dose vials.

Others are freeze dried and need to reconstituted or mixed with a specific diluent, such as sterile water.

Those that use a diluent include:

  • MMR II
  • ProQuad
  • Varivax (chickenpox)
  • Zostavax (shingles)
  • ActHib and TriHIBit (Hib)
  • Hiberix
  • Menveo and Menomune (Meningococcal)
  • Pentacel
  • Rotarix
  • Imovax and RabAvert (rabies)
  • YF-VAX (yellow fever)

In addition to sterile water, vaccine diluents can include sodium chloride, distilled water, and vaccine antigens.

The use of diluents can lead to errors when administering vaccines, from using the wrong diluent, using a drug instead of a diluent, to giving a diluent instead of a vaccine.

That’s what happened when 15 children in Syria died after being vaccinated with MMR. The drug Atracurium was used instead of the diluent for the MMR vaccine.

And that’s why people who give vaccines are taught to “Check the vial label three times to be sure you have chosen the correct vaccine product (and diluent, when applicable). Check the expiration date of the vaccine (and diluent) before using to be sure they are not out of date.”

For more information:

Paracelsus

Paracelsus (1493–1541) lived well before the age of vaccines.

He is though often thought of as the father of toxicology, famously saying that:

Solely the dose determines that a thing is not a poison

This principle continues to be used today, helping to point out that small amounts of chemicals in vaccines are not toxic or poisonous.

For more information: