What’s in my vaccine?

Does anyone really know what is actually in their vaccines? Or their child’s vaccines? Ask virtually anyone on the street and they will probably mention some form or another of the British study published in 1998 that took the health care world by storm.  Since condemned by health care providers around the world and its author stripped of his medical credentials, the study that claimed the MMR vaccine was linked to autism has been hard to live down.  Blaming a connection between the key preservative–thimerosal to an increase in the cognitive disorder autism sent shock waves around the world causing parents to refuse the vaccine for years to come.  Despite multiple attempts to reassure the public of the safety of the vaccine, every year thousands of parents decline to have their children vaccinated with the now-stereotyped measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.

 

Physicians have also been forced to field more questions from concerned parents who want to know just what’s in the medications before they are given.  The CDC offers public informational sheets on each vaccine, its indications and side effects that should be given prior to the administration of any immunization.  This information provides basic data but fails to divulge any information on the ingredients themselves.  If they so desire, some patients may be granted access to the medication insert that comes with the immunization and if sorting through tiny print is warranted, all the information regarding the vaccine’s contents can be found there.

 

But for those who simply don’t have time or want an easier way to find out about the components of a vaccine, there are a variety of resources available to help ease the process. One web-based site is www.vaccinesafety.edu/components  which is hosted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.  Listed in alphabetical order is an exhaustive database of virtually every vaccination available along with its ingredients.

 

Vaccines are not an easily manufactured concoction.  A carefully blended mix of stabilizers, preservatives (in some cases) and diluents are used to help guarantee quality and lengthen the shelf life the immunization during transport and storage.  Upon examination ingredients (though in small amounts) can seem outrageous, but are typically a result of the incubation, or growth process needed to reproduce the virus or bacteria.  For example, the HPV vaccine–a vaccine that makes headlines frequently for its high side effect risk lists “yeast, sodium borate, sodium chloride, polysorbate 80, and amorphous aluminum hydroxyphosphate sulfate, and 225 mcg aluminum” as components of each dose.

 

The mystery behind the occurrence of vaccine reactions is not so mysterious when one considers the many additives that lay within the medication. Despite its purpose, the role many ingredients play in potential complications could be significant.  Understanding exactly what is contained in each vaccine may seem like a complicated process but it may be a more needed step than what many people realize. Personal health may depend on it.

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