Are all vaccines safe?
The recent measles outbreak at Disneyland has everyone in a frenzy over vaccinations. The health consequences of vaccines have been a hotly debated topic in recent years and for a good reason.
A good question to ask is: are all vaccines safe?
It’s believed that vaccines have virtually eliminated certain diseases like smallpox and polio, which once killed millions of people. There is another side of the story, though, particularly for people with autoimmune sensitivity: many vaccines contain mercury and aluminum, and all vaccines are designed to provoke an immune response.
Mercury in vaccinations comes in the form of thimerosal, which is 49.6 percent ethylmercury (eHg) and is used as a vaccine preservative. Mercury is an extremely toxic heavy metal linked to all kinds of physical and behavioral conditions. A debate has raged about mercury from thimerosal contributing to autism in children.1 While government agencies keep denying the dangers of thimerosal, in 1999 and 2000 the FDA, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and the American Academy of Pediatrics issued two joint statements urging vaccine manufacturers to reduce or eliminate thimerosal in vaccines as soon as possible.
As a result, thimerosal use is mostly limited to multi-dose vials of seasonal flu vaccine, tetanus toxoid, and certain meningococcal vaccines. Single-dose vials of flu and meningococcal vaccines are available without thimerosal, and there are vaccines for tetanus without mercury as well. Of course, you or your loved ones might have been exposed to mercury in vaccines long before these reforms began.
Much harder to avoid is the issue of aluminum and aluminum salts as an adjuvant in vaccines. An adjuvant is a substance used to stimulate (aggravate) the immune system to make certain the vaccine is effective enough. Aluminum stirs the immune system for a reason; it is a known neurotoxin and carries a risk for autoimmunity, long-term brain inflammation, and associated neurological complications.2,3 Evidence suggests that simultaneous administration of as little as two to three immune adjuvants can overcome genetic resistance to autoimmunity.69 Furthermore, the very latest research demonstrates that aluminum from vaccines finds its way into the brain and spleen, where it can still be detected over a year after vaccine administration.
Not all vaccines contain aluminum or aluminum salts. Here is a list of vaccines without aluminum adjuvants: the inactivated polio virus (IPV) vaccine; the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR); the varicella vaccine; the meningococcal conjugate (MCV4) vaccine; and the influenza vaccine.4
The following vaccines do contain aluminum adjuvants:
- DTP (diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis)
- DTaP (diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis)
- Some Hib (haemophilus influenzae type b) conjugate vaccines
- Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine
- Hepatitis B vaccines
- All combination DTaP, Tdap, Hib, or hepatitis B vaccines
- Hepatitis A vaccines
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine
- Anthrax vaccine
- Rabies vaccine
A final consideration is in order for those with autoimmune sensitivity. Vaccines work by provoking an immune response by introducing an antigen into the system so that immune cells become informed about the pathogen and mount a defense against it. Anything that provokes the immune system runs a risk of increasing autoimmune responses in susceptible individuals.
Just because there is a vaccine for something, doesn’t mean it will protect you. Some vaccines like the one for whooping cough have notoriously high failure rates.5 Many people take the flu vaccine and get the flu anyway.6 You have to wonder about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines when even many health care professional themselves don’t accept vaccinations, even though they are at particularly high risk.7 I’m not saying there isn’t a place for vaccines. I’m saying that there are dangers and consequences associated with vaccines. We have to use them wisely when truly necessary so that the side effects of prevention don’t become worse than the diseases we are trying to prevent.
- Geier D, Kern J, Garver C, et al. Biomarkers of environmental toxicity and susceptibility in autism, Journal of the Neurological Sciences, Volume 280, Issues 1–2, 15 May 2009, Pages 101-10 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022510X08004310
- Shoenfeld Y, Agmon-Levin N. ‘ASIA’ – autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants. J Autoimmun. 2011;11:4–8 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20708902?dopt=Abstract&holding=f1000,f1000m,isrctn
- Tomljenovic L, Shaw CA. Aluminum Vaccine Adjuvants: Are they Safe? Curr Med Chem. 2011;18:2630–2637 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21568886
- Tomljenovic L, Shaw CA. Mechanisms of aluminum adjuvant toxicity and autoimmunity in pediatric populations. Lupus February 2012 21: 223-230 http://lup.sagepub.com/content/21/2/223
- National Network for Immunization Information. Aluminum Adjuvants in Vaccines. Nov. 2008 http://www.immunizationinfo.org/issues/vaccine-components/aluminum-adjuvants-vaccines
- Cherry JD. Why do pertussis vaccines fail? Pediatrics 129: 968–970 (2012)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Interim Adjusted Estimates of Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness — United States, February 2013 http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6207a2.htm?s_cid=mm6207a2_w
- Orenstein WA, Heseltine PN, LeGagnoux SJ, Portnoy B. Rubella vaccine and susceptible hospital employees. Poor physician participation. JAMA. 1981 Feb 20;245(7):711–713 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7463660
Michelle Corey, C.N.W.C., FMC, is a Wellness Recovery Specialist, Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant, researcher and author. Michelle studied holistic nutrition at Clayton College of Natural Health and completed a comprehensive 2-year practical program at Academy of Functional Medicine and Genomics. Since reversing her autoimmune condition, Michelle has helped hundreds of people reverse autoimmune and other chronic conditions. She is currently an advisor to the Academy of Functional Medicine and Genomics and the Functional Medical University. She is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants. Michelle and offers Functional Mind-Body healing retreats, workshops and online courses.
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