Tag: ingredients

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

Precautions vs Contraindications When Vaccinating Your Kids

Believe it or not, there are some anti-vaccine folks who believe that all vaccines are dangerous and unnecessary. And they believe that pediatricians push vaccines on kids in all situations, using a one-size-fits-all kind of immunization schedule.

Of course, neither is true.

Vaccines are safe and necessary.

There are some true medical contraindications and precautions to getting vaccinated though. Still, it is important to remember that even more things are simply “conditions incorrectly perceived as contraindications to vaccination.”

Contraindications To Vaccinating Your Kids

There are actually some good reasons to delay or skip one or a few of your child’s vaccines, but only in some very specific situations.

These very specific situations are called contraindications and are what count as medical exemptions.

“A vaccine should not be administered when a contraindication is present; for example, MMR vaccine should not be administered to severely immunocompromised persons.”

CDC on Vaccine Contraindications and Precautions

Fortunately, there are not that many of these contraindications, they are usually specific to just one or a few vaccines, and they are usually, but not always, temporary.

That’s why it would be really unusual to get a true permanent medical exemption for all vaccines. Even if you had a severe allergy to a vaccine that contained yeast, latex, or gelatin, since vaccines contain different ingredients, you would very likely be able to safely get the others.

Remember, your doctor can’t, or at least shouldn’t, just make up contraindications and exemptions to help you avoid getting your kids vaccinated and help you keep them in school.

“I do not believe vaccines had anything to do with my child’s autism. I never noticed any change in his speech, behavior or development with vaccines. I believe the protection and benefits of vaccines far outweigh the risks!”

Michele Han, MD, FAAP

Autism, for example, has been shown to not be associated with vaccines, so it is not a contraindication to getting vaccinated. That’s why many parents vaccinate and protect their autistic kids!

Precautions To Vaccinating Your Kids

In addition to contraindications to getting vaccinated, there is an accompanying list of  precautions.

“A precaution is a condition in a recipient that might increase the risk for a serious adverse reaction, might cause diagnostic confusion, or might compromise the ability of the vaccine to produce immunity (e.g., administering measles vaccine to a person with passive immunity to measles from a blood transfusion administered up to 7 months prior). A person might experience a more severe reaction to the vaccine than would have otherwise been expected; however, the risk for this happening is less than the risk expected with a contraindication. In general, vaccinations should be deferred when a precaution is present. However, a vaccination might be indicated in the presence of a precaution if the benefit of protection from the vaccine outweighs the risk for an adverse reaction.”

CDC on Vaccine Contraindications and Precautions

Again, we are fortunate that most of the conditions that are listed as precautions are temporary.

The vaccine information sheet that you get with each vaccine will list contraindications and precautions on who should not get the vaccine.
The vaccine information sheet that you get with each vaccine will list contraindications and precautions on who should not get the vaccine.

In fact, the most common is having a “moderate or severe acute illness with or without fever.”

Don’t want to get your child vaccinated when he or she has a severe illness?

Don’t worry.

Your pediatrician usually doesn’t want to vaccinate your child in that situation either.

It is easy enough to wait a few days or a week to get vaccinated, when the illness has passed, keeping in mind that a “mild acute illness with or without fever” is neither a precaution nor a contraindication to getting vaccinated. So you can still get your child their recommended vaccines if they just have a cold, stomach bug, or ear infection, etc.

What to Know About Precautions and Contraindications to Vaccines

Although there are some true medical exemptions or contraindications and precautions to getting vaccinated, most are vaccine specific and many are temporary, so they shouldn’t keep you from getting your child at least mostly vaccinated and protected.

More on Precautions and Contraindications to Vaccines

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

Which Vaccines Are Gluten Free?

Why does gluten sometimes come up in discussions about vaccines?

Is it because a vaccine to treat people with Celiac disease is being tested?

Probably not.

It is more likely that it is because some people worry that vaccines contain gluten.

Which Vaccines Are Gluten-Free?

So which vaccines are gluten-free?

All vaccines are gluten-free. Do they need to labeled 'gluten-free' to convince some vaccine hesitant folks?
All vaccines are gluten-free. Do they need to labeled ‘gluten-free’ to convince some vaccine hesitant folks?

Fortunately, they all are, so you don’t have to worry about skipping or delaying your child’s vaccines if they have Celiac disease, a gluten sensitivity, or if you are simply following a gluten-free diet.

Vaccines and Food Allergies

Non-active components of vaccines can rarely trigger allergic reactions, including antibiotics and latex.

What about non-active vaccine ingredients that might worry someone with food allergies?

There actually are some, including eggs, milk, gelatin, and yeast.

Talk to your pediatrician or a pediatric allergist if you are concerned about vaccine allergies. 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.

You don’t have to worry about gluten though.

What To Know About Vaccines and Gluten

There is no gluten in vaccines and vaccines are actually in development to treat people with gluten sensitivity.

For More Information on Vaccine Allergies

 

How to Read a Package Insert for a Vaccine

The highlights of prescribing information of the package insert offers a nice summary of each section, with more details in the full prescribing information section that follows.
The Highlights of Prescribing Information of the package insert offers a nice summary of each section, with more details in the Full Prescribing Information section that follows.

Show me the package insert!

If you are going to ask for a package insert, you should know what’s in it and how it should be read.

Otherwise, it is easy to get misled by antivaccine propaganda, like when Mike Adams claimed he discovered “a vaccine document on the FDA’s own website that openly admits vaccines are linked to autism.”

He really just found the widely available vaccine package insert that said no such thing.

How to Read a Package Insert for a Vaccine

What goes into a package insert is dictated by the FDA, specifically the Code of Federal Regulations Title 21, and Section 314 of the NCVIA, after consultation with the Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines.

Much like the package inserts for other medicines, a vaccine package insert includes up to 17 major sections, including:

  1. Indications and Usage – what the vaccine is used for
  2. Dosage and Administration – the recommended dose of vaccine, when and where it should be given, and how to mix it
  3. Dosage Forms and Strengths – available dosage forms
  4. Contraindications – all situations when the vaccine should not be given
  5. Warning and Precautions – all adverse reactions and safety hazards that may occur after getting the vaccine and what you should do if they occur
  6. Adverse Reactions – this section includes clinical trials experience, postmarketing experience, and voluntary reports, and it is very important to understand that it is not always possible to establish a causal relationship to vaccination for these adverse effects. So just because something is listed here, whether it is SIDS, autism, drowning, or a car accident, doesn’t mean that it was actually caused by the vaccine.
  7. Drug Interactions – any reactions you might expect between the vaccine and other drugs
  8. Use in Specific Populations – can include recommendations for use in pregnancy, nursing mothers, pediatric use, and geriatric use
  9.  Drug abuse and dependence – usually blank
  10.  Overdosage – usually blank
  11. Description – general information about the vaccine, including how it was made and all vaccine ingredients.
  12. Clinical Pharmacology – how the vaccine works, including how long you might expect protection to last
  13. Nonclinical Toxicology – must include a section on carcinogenesis, mutagenesis, impairment of fertility, even if it is to say that the vaccine “has not been evaluated for the potential to cause carcinogenicity, genotoxicity, or impairment of male fertility.”
  14. Clinical Studies – a discussion of the clinical studies that help us understand how to use the drug safely and effectively
  15. References – when necessary, a list of references that are important to decisions about the use of the vaccine
  16. How Supplied/Storage and Handling
  17. Patient Counseling Information – information necessary for patients to use the drug safely and effectively

In addition to not having sections 9 and 10, some vaccines don’t have a section 13. It is not a conspiracy. Some older vaccines, like Varivax, do not have to have a section 13 per FDA labeling rules.

Myths About Package Inserts

Just as important as what’s listed in a vaccine package insert, is what the package insert doesn’t say.

Or what you might be led to believe it says.

“To ensure the safety of new vaccines, preclinical toxicology studies are conducted prior to the initiation of, and concurrently with, clinical studies. There are five different types of preclinical toxicology study in the evaluation of vaccine safety: single and/or repeat dose, reproductive and developmental, mutagenicity, carcinogenicity, and safety pharmacology. If any adverse effects are observed in the course of these studies, they should be fully evaluated and a final safety decision made accordingly. ”

M.D. Green on the Preclinical Toxicology of Vaccines

When reading a package insert, don’t be misled into thinking that:

  • you should be worried if a package insert states that a vaccine has not been evaluated for carcinogenic (being known or suspected of being able to cause cancer) or mutagenic (being known or suspected of causing mutations in our DNA, which can lead to cancer) potential or impairment of male fertility. Vaccines don’t cause cancer or impair male fertility, or female fertility for that matter. And as you probably know, many vaccines actually prevent cancer. Formaldehyde is the only vaccine ingredient on the list of known carcinogens, but it is the long-term exposure to high amounts of formaldehyde, usually inhaled formaldehyde, that is carcinogenic, not the residual amounts you might get in a vaccine over short amounts of time.
  • any vaccine actually causes SIDS or autism
  • pediatricians are trying to keep parents from reading package inserts. Your pediatrician is probably just confused as to why you want it, as the VIS is designed for parents, not the package insert. But if even if your pediatrician doesn’t hand you a package insert for each and every vaccine your child is going to get, they are readily available from the FDA and many other websites.

Better yet, just don’t be misled by anti-vaccine misinformation.

“Based on previous experience, carcinogenicity studies are generally not needed for adjuvants or adjuvanted vaccines.”

WHO Guidelines on Nonclinical Evaluation of Vaccine Adjuvants and Adjuvanted Vaccines

Vaccines are thoroughly tested for both efficacy and safety before they are approved.

It is also important to understand that the WHO Guidelines on Nonclinical Evaluation of Vaccine Adjuvants and Adjuvanted Vaccines and the European Medicines Evaluation Agency both state that mutagenicity and carcincogenicity studies are typically not required for vaccines.

Why not?

It is because vaccines have a low risk of inducing tumors.

There are also very specific guidelines and rules for when a manufacturer needs to perform fertility studies.

So, as expected, there are no surprises in vaccine package inserts. You can be sure that everything that needs to be tested to show that a vaccine is safe has been done. If it has “not been evaluated,” it is simply because it was not necessary.

Get educated about vaccines and get your family vaccinated and protected against vaccine preventable diseases.

What to Know About Reading Vaccine Package Inserts

Learn how to read vaccine package inserts so that you aren’t misled by many of the myths about what they do and don’t say, including why they are likely missing information on the vaccine’s potential to cause carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, or impairment of fertility.

More on How to Read a Package Insert for a Vaccine:

Slogans of the Anti-Vaccine Movement

Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey went on a mission to Green Our Vaccines in 2008.
Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey went on a mission to Green Our Vaccines in 2008.

We know that there is no science to support the anti-vaccine movement.

History isn’t on their side either.

So what’s left?

How do they push misinformation and myths about vaccines to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids?

Slogans of the Anti-Vaccine Movement

In addition to their celebrities and a relative handful of ‘experts,’ the modern antivaccine movement makes effective use of very catchy slogans to scare people away from getting educated about vaccines and vaccinating their kids.

If there is a RISK, there must be a CHOICE.

This is one of the more recent and also one of the more powerful slogans that we have seen. It implies that the choice over skipping or delaying vaccines is being taken away and that the only risk comes from the vaccines themselves.

But like most slogans used as propaganda tools, there is little behind it.

Parents nearly always have a choice on whether or not to vaccinate their kids, even if they live in a state without non-medical exceptions.

Vaccine mandates are laws that say you must be fully vaccinated to attend school. Instead of homeschooling their intentionally unvaccinated kids, some parents think that they must have even more choices though.

In addition to overestimating the risks from vaccines, these folks greatly underestimate the risks of getting a vaccine-preventable disease from skipping vaccines, both to their own kids and to the rest of us in the community.

They are simply increasing our risk and limiting our choices to keep our own kids safe and healthy.

You can always get Vaccinated, but you can never get Unvaccinated.

This slogan is likely a surprise to all of the folks who push (sell) regimens that claim to detox kids of their vaccines, or more specifically, all of the “toxins, poisons, and chemicals” that were supposedly in the vaccines they got.

It is also a sad reminder to all of those families who skipped or delayed a vaccine a little too long – long enough for their child to get a life-threatening vaccine-preventable disease.

This slogan really just highlights the fact that anti-vaccine do not really understand the risks of delaying or skipping vaccines. That’s despite the fact that studies have shown that following a non-standard, parent-selected, delayed protection vaccine schedule simply puts kids at risk for vaccine-preventable diseases, without any benefits of fewer side effects.

And for the record, you can get unvaccinated. It is one of the reasons that herd immunity is so important. Just ask the parents of any child who has had to have chemotherapy or a bone marrow transplant and is now immunosuppressed.

Green Our Vaccines.

Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey led the “Green Our Vaccines” rally back in 2008.

In 2008, Jenny McCarthy ran a full page ad in USA Today warning about toxins, autism, and the "whopping increase" in vaccines kids were getting.
In 2008, Jenny McCarthy ran a full page ad in USA Today warning about toxins, autism, and the “whopping increase” in vaccines kids were getting.

Although they always claimed they were not anti-vaccine, they helped pushed the idea that vaccines were full of toxins.

They aren’t.

Vaccine ingredients are safe.

Too many, Too soon.

Jenny McCarthy can likely also be credited with creating with idea that kids get too many vaccines at too early an age.

Our kids certainly do get more vaccines than they did in the 1970s and 80s, but that simply means more protection from vaccine-preventable diseases that used to be killers, like Haemophilus influenzae type b and Streptococcus pneumoniae.

Today’s vaccines have fewer antigens than ever too, even though kids get more vaccines than they used to. But certainly not more than they can easily and safely handle.

Vaccination is not Immunization.

This idea is pushed by a chiropractor, who also talks about “pure blood.”

If you believe that vaccination is not immunization, then how did vaccines help eradicate smallpox and how are they helping to eliminate and control other vaccine preventable diseases, like polio, measles, and rubella, etc.

And that’s the whole point. Many anti-vaccine folks don’t really believe that vaccines work. That helps them justify their decision to skip or delay vaccinating their kids.

Even if you thought that vaccines had too many side effects, if you also admitted that they worked to protect your kids, then your anti-vaccine views would likely produce a high level of cognitive dissonance. So instead you cling to these types of slogans. And if your kid does get a vaccine-preventable disease, you’ll still feel okay, because you will blame it on shedding from someone who just got vaccinated.

I’m not anti-vaccine, I’m pro-safe vaccine

The problem with this slogan, and in general, using it as an anti-vaccine argument, is that vaccines are safe. They are not 100% safe, but no one claims that they are.

Serious side effects from vaccines are very rare though.

People who rally against already safe vaccines, claiming that they say are full of ‘toxins’ and wanting even safer vaccines before they will vaccinate their kids, are not really pro-vaccine.

Neither are any of the folks who push these slogans, all of which are pure anti-vaccine propaganda.

What to Know About the Slogans of the Anti-Vaccine Movement

Catchy slogans are one of the ways that the anti-vaccine movement uses to push  misinformation about vaccines.

More About Slogans of the Anti-Vaccine Movement

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