Tag: ingredients

Should You Use a Vaccine Ingredient Calculator?

Do you want to make an informed vaccination decision?

Are you looking for more information about the ingredients in the vaccines your kids are about to get?

Have you tried one of those vaccine ingredient calculators?

Should You Use a Vaccine Ingredient Calculator?

As you do your research and look at the risks and benefits of your vaccine decision, you should know that those vaccine ingredient calculators that claim to help reduce toxins aren’t really helping you make an informed decision.

Calculate which vaccine-preventable diseases your child will be protected from when he gets vaccinated.
Calculate which vaccine-preventable diseases your child will be protected from when he gets vaccinated.

They are a propaganda tool that simply works to increase fear about vaccines by making you think that you need to do a vaccine lot search, compare vaccine brands, or work to reduce exposures to  specific ingredients.

Why would you need to do a lot search? There are no hot lots of vaccines that you need to avoid.

Why would you need to compare vaccines based on their brands? Vaccines are safe. Vaccine ingredients are safe. Although the ingredients might vary a bit based on the brand of vaccine, that isn’t going to impact how well a vaccine works or it’s side effects.

And the sites with these types of calculators never mention the risks of skipping or delaying vaccines.

Which Vaccines Contain More Than the FDA Approved Amount of Aluminum?

But what about aluminum?

Depending on the brand, don’t some vaccines do contain more aluminum than others?

“The alternative suggests only one aluminum-containing vaccine at a time in the infant years (the right brands must be chosen). By spreading out the shots, you spread out the exposure so infants can process the aluminum without it reaching toxic levels.”

Bob Sears in The Vaccine Book

The FDA states that “the amount of aluminum in the recommended individual dose of a biological product shall not exceed” 0.85  to 1.25 milligrams.

Not surprisingly, no vaccine exceeds that approved amount of aluminum, no matter what brand you choose.

Why do anti-vaccine folks scare parents into thinking that their kids are getting exposed to potentially toxic levels of aluminum from vaccines?

“WARNING: This product contains aluminum that may be toxic. Aluminum may reach toxic levels with prolonged parenteral administration if kidney function is impaired. Premature neonates are particularly at risk because their kidneys are immature, and they require large amounts of calcium and phosphate solutions, which contain aluminum.
Research indicates that patients with impaired kidney function, including premature neonates, who receive parenteral levels of aluminum at greater than 4 to 5 [micro]g/kg/day accumulate aluminum at levels associated with central nervous system and bone toxicity. Tissue loading may occur at even lower rates of administration.”

FDA on Aluminum in large and small volume parenterals used in total parenteral nutrition.

The FDA and AAP and others began investigating and then warning folks about aluminum in 1986. They weren’t worried about aluminum in vaccines though. They were concerned that newborns and younger premature infants might be getting too much aluminum if they were getting a lot of IV products with aluminum, especially if they weren’t able to eat on their own and were dependent on total parental nutrition for long periods of time.

So these were high risk infants who were potentially getting high doses of aluminum each and every day for weeks or months at a time. And somehow anti-vaccine folks equated this with other infants who were getting vaccines every few months, at least they did once they started to move away from worrying about thimerosal.

What to Know About Using a Vaccines Ingredient Calculator

Vaccine ingredient calculators are a propaganda tool that anti-vaccine folks use to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

More on Using a Vaccines Ingredient Calculator

Are There Hidden Ingredients in Vaccines?

We know all of the ingredients in vaccines.

We know that they are safe and aren’t toxic.

So what now? Anti-vaccine folks move the goalposts and start talking conspiracy theories about hidden ingredients in vaccines.

Are There Hidden Ingredients in Vaccines?

There are no hidden ingredients in vaccines.

A list of ingredients is included on the vaccine’s package insert and can be found on a number of articles on the Internet.

That’s how we know that vaccines do not contain a vaginal spermicide, antifreeze, aborted fetal tissue, or peanut oil.

Multi-dose vials of flu vaccine still contain the preservative thimerosal.
It is no secret that multi-dose vials of flu vaccine still contain the preservative thimerosal, and that most flu vaccines are now thimerosal free.

One anti-vaccine group did test and find thimerosal in a vaccine, but it was a flu vaccine that said it contained thimerosal. How much did they find? The amount that was supposed to be in the vaccine… If they were really reporting about some kind of conspiracy, you would have thought they would have tested one of the thimerosal free flu vaccines that are available.

What about the idea that “some information regarding additives and residuals is considered to be a trade secret and thus confidential?”

The chapter in the book Vaccines where that quote comes from also states that because of FDA regulations “the use of, and quantity of, additives and residuals should be disclosed on the vaccine label.”

Specifically, vaccines labels must include:

  • the preservative used and its concentration
  • known sensitizing substances
  • the type and calculated amounts of antibiotics added during manufacture
  • the inactive ingredients when a safety factor
  • the adjuvant, if present
  • the source of the product when a factor in safe administration
  • the identity of each organism used in manufacture, and, where, applicable, the production medium and method of inactivation

So what are the trade secrets?

“It is important to recognize that FDA-approval of all new vaccines involves not only assessment of the antigens and final contents, but the entire process of synthesis. Each and every component introduced and used in the manufacture is scrutinized. While there are a wide array of excipients required to either manufacture, package or deliver effective immunity, each of these is part of this approval process.”

Vaccinophobia and Vaccine Controversies of the 21st Century

They are likely very specific details about the production process. In other words, how exactly they put all of the ingredients together to actually make the vaccine.

There is no secret about what’s in your child’s vaccines. No hidden ingredients either.

What about warnings over contaminates in vaccines?

When they rarely occur, contaminated vaccines are discovered and removed. Keep in mind that vaccines are very safe from contamination and the only issue with any recent incidents is that they are used by the anti-vaccine movement to further scare parents who are on the fence about vaccines.

What to Know About Hidden Ingredients in Vaccines

There are no secret or hidden ingredients in vaccines.

More on Hidden Ingredients in Vaccines

Which Vaccines Contain Aborted Baby Parts?

If you are already on the fence about vaccines, there are probably some you want to avoid…

For many parents, that likely means skipping all of the vaccines with aborted baby parts and fetal tissue.

Which Vaccines Contain Aborted Baby Parts?

Do vaccines really contain aborted baby parts and fetal tissue?

“Have you read the CDC’s vaccine ingredient list? Why would they list aborted baby parts as ingredients if they weren’t actually in vaccines? Just because there’s only a little baking soda in a cake doesn’t mean it’s not in there. In fact, a little baking soda can have quite the effect on a cake and the person eating it. If it’s on the label, it’s in the vaccine.”

Megan Heimer on What You Didn’t Know About the Aborted Baby Parts in Your Vaccines

Are you surprised that the CDC’s vaccine ingredient list doesn’t list aborted baby parts as ingredients of any vaccines?

It does list:

  • WI-38 human diploid lung fibroblast cells
  • MRC-5 human diploid cells

But cells are not tissues or body parts…

Cells make up tissues and tissues make up body parts, but that doesn’t sound as scary, does it?

“Given that many vaccines use aborted fetal cell tissue (where a viable fetus was medically and voluntarily aborted, not miscarried), there is clearly a valid, religious argument for not submitting to these shots.”

Sarah Pope on How to Resist Pediatrician Pro Vaccination Tactics

Immortalized cell lines, like the WI-38 and MRC-5 cell lines, even lose their tissue characteristics.

This type of anti-vaccine propaganda is likely why so many anti-vaccine folks still think that aborted baby parts and fetal tissue are ingredients in vaccines.

The Pontifical Academy for Life reaffirmed the "lawfulness" of using vaccines to protect children and those around them.
The Pontifical Academy for Life reaffirmed the “lawfulness” of using vaccines to protect children and those around them.

They aren’t. Not in any vaccine.

Some vaccines are made with fetal embryo fibroblast cells (the WI-38 and MRC-5 cells) from cell lines that are derived (they can replicate infinitely) from two electively terminated pregnancies (abortions) in the 1960s. That certainly does not mean that any vaccines contain aborted fetal tissue or baby parts though.

Those original cells aren’t even involved in making these vaccines any more.

The cells used today have been copied, over and over again. They are descendant cells, which is why a common way to explain all of this, is to say that vaccines are said to have a “distant association with abortion.”

And even then, the cells are removed before the final vaccine is produced.

That’s why the National Catholic Bioethics Center states that that:

“One is morally free to use the vaccine regardless of its historical association with abortion. The reason is that the risk to public health, if one chooses not to vaccinate, outweighs the legitimate concern about the origins of the vaccine. This is especially important for parents, who have a moral obligation to protect the life and health of their children and those around them.”

And why it is said that Catholics are “morally free to use the vaccine regardless of its historical association with abortion” and that “it should be obvious that vaccine use in these cases does not contribute directly to the practice of abortion since the reasons for having an abortion are not related to vaccine preparation.”

What To Know About Vaccines, Abortion & Fetal Tissue

Vaccines are safe and necessary and do not contain aborted fetal tissue or body parts, although some do have a distant association with abortion.

More on Vaccines, Abortion & Fetal Tissue

I Refuse to Listen to Bad Advice About Flu Shots, and I Won’t Apologize for It

The only thing that seems to be more rampant than the flu this season are the articles pushing people to skip a flu shot.

POPSUGAR moms will hopefully go somewhere else for advice about flu shots.
POPSUGAR moms will hopefully go somewhere else for advice about flu shots.

They. Are. Everywhere.

I Refuse to Listen to Bad Advice About Flu Shots

Why are we seeing so many folks attacking flu shots lately?

It’s simple. A bad flu season reminds people that they should get vaccinated and protected. We see the same thing when there are outbreaks of measles, mumps, and pertussis, etc.

And then those folks who are truly anti-vaccine have to come out and justify why they still don’t believe in vaccines.

That leaves us with arguments like this:

“Whenever I start to get worried that I’ll end up with the flu if I don’t get the shot, I remember that it isn’t always effective.”

Jen Glantz on Do You Need To Get A Flu Shot?

It is true that the flu shot is not always effective, but if you are only going to use things that are 100% effective, then why would you take “lots of vitamins and natural supplements” when you have the flu, things that have been shown to be ineffective?

“Side effects can include soreness around the injection side, a low-grade fever for a few days, and muscle aches. Now, I know that this may seem like a small price to pay to avoid getting the full-blown flu, but if I can avoid any sickness at all, why not try?”

Jen Glantz on Do You Need To Get A Flu Shot?

Uh, if you want to try and avoid any sickness, why not get a flu shot? Even when it isn’t as effective as we would like, a flu shot can help reduce your chance of hospitalization, serious flu complications, and of dying with the flu.

“Have you ever taken a step back and learned more about what the heck is actually inside the flu shot? ”

Jen Glantz on Do You Need To Get A Flu Shot?

I know exactly what’s in the flu shot.

Does anyone at POPSUGAR?

Got something you want published online? Head over to POPSUGAR...
Got something you want published online? Head over to POPSUGAR…

Even with a disclaimer from an Editor, POPSUGAR should be ashamed of themselves for publishing an article that says the flu shot is filled with toxins. In addition to an ingredients list, the CDC explains that “all ingredients either help make the vaccine, or ensure the vaccine is safe and effective.”

Flu shot ingredients are not toxins!

“Instead of injecting myself with toxins, I do things like practice good hygiene, take lots of vitamins and natural supplements, and rely on my body and it’s strength to fight off any unwanted bacteria. The human body is an incredible thing, and I trust it. I also like it to ride out things naturally.”

Jen Glantz on Do You Need To Get A Flu Shot?

The flu is a virus, not a bacteria, but I get the point that the author is attempting to make. The thing is though, that while the human body is certainly incredible, relying on it to get you over the flu is not always an easy ride. We often have to pay a high price for natural immunity.

And the people who die with the flu don’t die because of poor hygiene or because they don’t take enough vitamins and supplements. They die because they have the flu. And more often than not, especially in the case of children, because they are unvaccinated.

“For some people, getting the flu shot is at the very top of their to-do list, but for me, it’s something I refuse to do. And that’s OK too.”

Jen Glantz on Do You Need To Get A Flu Shot?

It is certainly OK that Jen Glantz doesn’t get a flu shot each year. At least it is OK as long as she doesn’t get the flu and give it to someone else.

It is not OK that POPSUGAR gives her a voice on such an important topic. Don’t listen to them.

It’s not as big a deal when she writes about the “importance” of drinking both hot and cold water each day, drinking apple cider vinegar for bloating, the best baby names of the year, or how to pee when wearing a wedding dress. That’s the kind of clickbait type content you expect from a POPSUGAR type site.

But scaring people and making them think that there are toxins in flu shots?

Save it for GOOP.

What to Know About Bad Flu Shot Advice

This year’s bad flu season wasn’t limited to folks getting sick… There was also a lot of bad flu shot advice going around.

More on Bad Flu Shot Advice

Which Vaccines Contain Antifreeze?

If you are already on the fence about vaccines, there are probably some you want to avoid…

For many parents, that likely means skipping all of the vaccines with toxins, like antifreeze.

Which Vaccines Contain Antifreeze?

Do vaccines really contain antifreeze, the stuff we put in our cars?

“Too many too soon. When I was on this show before, I said we need an alternate schedule. This is too much. We need to get rid of the toxins, the mercury — which I am so tired of everyone saying it’s been removed. It has not been removed from the shots. We’ll get into that later. Aluminum, ether, antifreeze — these are toxic ingredients in shots that need to be removed.”

Jenny McCarthy on Larry King Live

Jenny McCarthy warned folks about antifreeze in vaccines when she appeared on Larry King Live on April 2, 2008 to promote her book, Louder Than Words: A Mother’s Journey in Healing Autism.

“We are treating vaccine injury and the kids are getting better.”

Jenny McCarthy

First things first – autism is not a vaccine injury.

Jenny McCarthy is also wrong about her ideas of toxins in vaccines.

Besides the fact that vaccine ingredients aren’t toxic, the last remaining non-flu vaccines with the preservative thimerosal, a form of mercury, expired in 2003. And there have been plenty of thimerosal free flu vaccines available for kids and pregnant women since then.

Aluminum is used in many vaccines, but again, it is not toxic.

Ether? There is no ether in vaccines. Remember, ether, or diethyl ether was once used as a general anesthetic. At least it was until we developed anesthetics that didn’t blow up.

And antifreeze?

Why do so many anti-vaccine folks think that antifreeze, or ethylene glycol, is an ingredient in vaccines?

It isn’t. Not in any vaccine.

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 and warn folks about toxins in vaccines, like antifreeze and ether.

Remember that toxic antifreeze, ethylene glycol, has a sweet taste, which helped contribute to it harming so many kids. You had a toxic substance that tasted good and which was sometimes stored inappropriately in the garage or kitchen cabinets.

Fortunately, ethylene glycol isn’t used as much as it used to be. Many people now use propylene glycol, which is considered to be a non-toxic antifreeze. Propylene glycol is not used in vaccines either.

Polyethylene glycol (PEG), which is also used in common laxatives, has been used to inactivate flu vaccines and was found in residual amounts in some of those flu vaccines.

And some vaccines do contain 2-phenoxyethanol. Another name for 2-phenoxyethanol is ethylene glycol monophenyl ether. A similar sounding name doesn’t make it the same substance though.

2-phenoxyethanol is used as a stabilizer or preservative in some vaccines.

But neither polyethylene glycol nor 2-phenoxyethanol are antifreeze and neither are toxic at doses present in vaccines.

What To Know About Vaccines with Antifreeze

Vaccines are safe and necessary and do not contain antifreeze or any other ingredients that are toxic.

More on Vaccines with Antifreeze

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