Monday, May 6, 2019

The Anti Vax Epidemic - Good Parents Getting Gamed. Episode 4: What's in Vaccines?

Image result for antivax warning
Parents, like me, trying to protect their kids from toxins and other harmful ingredients, are continuously bombarded with warnings by the anti vax community. Because of the onslaught of misinformation regarding vaccine safety, people see a list of vaccine ingredients they don't understand and freak out. So let's go through it. Let's clarify what the ingredients are, how much are actually in vaccines, and what that means for our health and the health of our children.

Image result for antivax warning vaccine ingredientsThe FDA, specifically, The Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) regulates vaccine products. They undergo a rigorous review of laboratory and clinical data to ensure their safety, efficacy, purity, and potency. Vaccines approved for marketing may also be required to undergo additional studies to further evaluate the vaccine or address specific questions about the vaccine's safety, effectiveness or possible side effects.

Vaccines Contain:
Antigens: A microbe, or part of a microbe, that primes your immune system to respond to that microbe. They can be very small amounts of: weak or dead germs, or  a small structural part of the germ. They help your immune system learn how to fight off infections faster and more effectively. Weak germs are called "attenuated" and do not cause disease in people with healthy immune systems. Dead germs are called "killed" or "inactivated" and cannot cause disease in anyone. Flu virus is an example of an antigen.
Adjuvants: Substances that help your immune system respond more strongly to a vaccine. This increases your immunity against the disease. Aluminum is an example of an adjuvant. Wait, what? Aluminum? Yes. Now let's break it down. Aluminum salts are incorporated into some vaccine formulations as an adjuvant. The aluminum salts in some U.S. licensed vaccines are aluminum hydroxide, aluminum phosphate, alum (potassium aluminum sulfate), or mixed aluminum salts. For example: aluminum salts are used in DTaP vaccines, the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, and hepatitis B vaccines. Aluminum adjuvant containing vaccines have a demonstrated safety profile of over six decades of use and have only uncommonly been associated with severe local reactions - a local reaction refers to a reaction at the site of injection like redness, tenderness, or swelling. FYI - the most common source of exposure to aluminum is from eating food or drinking water. 
Stabilizers: Used to help the vaccine maintain its effectiveness while the vaccine is made, stored, and moved. Vaccine stability is essential, particularly where the cold chain is unreliable. Instability can cause loss of antigenicity (how effective the antigen is at priming your immunity). Factors affecting stability are temperature and pH. Bacterial vaccines can become unstable due to hydrolysis (the chemical breakdown of a compound due to reaction with water) and aggregation (clustering) of protein and carbohydrate molecules. Magnesium chloride is an example of a stabilizing agent.
Preservatives: Protect the vaccine from outside bacteria or fungus. Today, preservatives are usually only used in vials (containers) of vaccines that have more than 1 dose. That’s because every time an individual dose is taken from the vial, it’s possible for harmful germs to get inside. Most vaccines are also available in single-dose vials and do not have preservatives in them. Thimerosal is an example of a preservative. Wait, what? Thimerisol? Yes. Now let's break it down. Thimerosal contains ethyl mercury. NOT methyl mercury. Methyl mercury is the mercury in fish. The higher up on the food chain you are, the more you get. Did you know...since 2001 pediatric vaccines have NOT contained thimerisol. And yet... autism rates remain the same. More evidence debunking the autism vaccine myth.
Excipients: Excipients have no medicinal properties but are used in manufacture of the vaccine. These ingredients are taken out after production so only tiny amounts are left in the final product. The very small amounts of these ingredients that remain in the final product aren’t harmful. These include:

  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics are used during the manufacturing phase to prevent bacterial contamination of the tissue culture cells in which the viruses are grown. Usually only trace amounts appear in vaccines. Neomycin is an example.
  • Egg proteins: Some viruses are grown in chicken eggs (Chick embryo cell culture). Virus is injected into fertilized hen’s eggs and incubated for several days to allow the viruses to replicate. The virus-containing fluid is harvested from the eggs.
  • Cell culture medium: The liquid in which cells are grown. For some viruses, cells are infected with the virus and the virus containing fluid is harvested from the cells. 
  • Killing or Inactivating ingredients: Something to weaken or kill viruses, bacteria, or toxins in the vaccine. Formaldehyde is an example. Wait, what? Formaldehyde? Yes. Now let's break it down. Formaldehyde is used to inactivate viruses and bacterial toxins. It is diluted so much in the process of making and purifying the vaccine, that the amounts in the final product are far less than what occurs naturally in our bodies. It does not pose any kind of safety concern in vaccines.
Note: They do NOT contain: aborted fetus parts, cow hearts, pig ligaments, worm ovaries, or anything else not listed here. 

Let's look at individual vaccines.
MMR - Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccine. In each 0.5 mL dose:
Antigens: live attenuated measles virus propagated in chick embryo cell culture; (2) live attenuated mumps virus propagated in chick embryo cell culture; and (3) live attenuated rubella virus propagated in WI-38 human diploid lung fibroblast cells.
Adjuvant: None
Stabilizers: Sorbitol (14.5mg), sodium phosphate (negligible), sucrose (1.9mg), sodium chloride (negligible), hydrolized gelatin (14.5mg)
Preservative: None. MMR is lyophilized (freeze dried) so there is no need for added preservatives. When the vaccine is used, the nurse or doctor reconstitutes it in sterile water and it is good for 8 hours.
Excipients: Recombinant human albumin (≤0.3 mg - from cell culture); fetal bovine serum (<1 ppm -from cell culture); other buffer and media ingredients and approximately 25 mcg of neomycin (from cell culture).

Seasonal Influenza - AFLURIA quadrivalent vaccine suspension 
Single dose vial for > or = 3 years; multi-dose vial for >/= 6 months
in each .05 mL dose:
Antigens: Killed vaccine containing the fours influenza virus strains (2 A and 2 B) most likely to cause disease in the upcoming season.
Adjuvant: None
Stabilizers: sodium chloride (4.1 mg), monobasic sodium phosphate (80 mcg), dibasic sodium phosphate (300 mcg), monobasic potassium phosphate (20 mcg), potassium chloride (20 mcg), and calcium chloride (0.5 mcg).
Preservative: Single dose vial contains no preservative. Multi-dose vials contain thimerisol: each 0.5 mL dose contains 24.5 mcg of mercury and each 0.25 mL dose contains 12.25 mcg of mercury. mcg = microgram. MICROGRAM. 1mcg = 0.000001g.
Excipients: residual amounts of sodium taurodeoxycholate (≤ 10 ppm), ovalbumin (< 1 mcg), sucrose (< 10 mcg), neomycin sulfate (≤ 62 nanograms [ng]), polymyxin B (≤ 11 ng), and beta-propiolactone (≤ 1.5 ng).

Seasonal Influenza -Fluzone quadrivalent vaccine suspension
0.25 mL prefilled syringe for 6-35 months; 0.5 mL prefilled syringe for >/= 6 months
in each .05 mL dose:
Antigens: Killed vaccine containing the four influenza virus strains (2 A and 2 B) most likely to cause disease in the upcoming season.
Adjuvant: None
Stabilizers: Sodium phosphate-buffered isotonic sodium chloride solution
Preservative: None
Excipients: residual amounts of  egg protein, formaldehyde and octylphenol ethoxylate (AKA triton-X a surfactant used to kill the virus)
I will add more specific vaccines and their ingredients in the coming days.

Putting it in perspective: Vaccine ingredients are safe. The manufacturing process ensures safety and efficacy. As chemists like to say, the dose makes the poison. We wouldn't drink a bottle of sodium phosphate, but the minuscule amount in vaccines won't hurt us. Same for Aluminum salts, formaldehyde, and yes, even for thimerisol. This might help put it in perspective even more. Let's check out what is in a bottle of a common pain reliever:
Children's Advil suspension: 
artificial flavor, carboxymethylcellulose sodium, citric acid monohydrate, edetate disodium, glycerin, microcrystalline cellulose, polysorbate 80, propylene glycol, purified water, sodium benzoate, sorbitol solution, sucralose, xanthan gum.
Huh. You don't say.
Okay. Children's Advil. We use it to help our children when needed. Do we give it to them when they don't need it? No. Do we give them an entire bottle at once? No. Why? Because science has shown us that giving them an entire bottle at once could seriously harm them. But when they need it, we make sure they get the right dose. Why? Because science has shown us that the right dose will seriously help them. And that's what good parents are trying to do. Help their children.

And so it goes with vaccines.

Some FAQs are included below and if you have any other questions for me, please let me know.



Common questions about vaccine ingredients
Q. Can vaccines with thimerosal cause mercury poisoning?
A: No. Thimerosal has a different form of mercury (ethylmercury) than the kind that causes mercury poisoning (methylmercury). It’s safe to use ethylmercury in vaccines because it’s less likely to build up in the body — and because it’s used in very, very small amounts. Even so, most vaccines do not have any thimerosal in them. If you’re concerned about thimerosal or mercury in vaccines, talk with your doctor.

Q. Can people who are allergic to antibiotics get vaccinated?
A: Yes. However, if you have an allergy to antibiotics, it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor about getting vaccinated. But in general, antibiotics that people are most likely to be allergic to — like penicillin — aren’t used in vaccines.

Q. Can people with egg allergies get vaccinated?
A: Yes. People with egg allergies can get any licensed, recommended flu vaccine that’s appropriate for their age. They no longer have to be watched for 30 minutes after getting the vaccine. People who have severe egg allergies should be vaccinated in a medical setting and be supervised by a health care professional who can recognize and manage severe allergic conditions.

Q. Is the formaldehyde used in some vaccines dangerous?
A: No. If formaldehyde is used to help produce a vaccine, only very small amounts are left in the final product. This amount is so small that it’s not dangerous — in fact, there’s actually more formaldehyde found naturally in our bodies than there is in vaccines made with formaldehyde.

Q. Is the aluminum used in some vaccines dangerous?
A: No. Vaccines made with aluminum have only a very small amount of aluminum in them. For decades, vaccines that include aluminum have been tested for safety — these studies have shown that using aluminum in vaccines is safe.

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