So a family friend asked me to investigate the dangers of vaccination, and of course this would prompt a look into the “possible” link between vaccination and autism. There are many really good studies out there, some from both camps (those against and those for vaccination), and the results seem to be nearly all over the place.
For now, this article will discuss what vaccines are, what they are composed of, and will also explain substances that might be found in a vaccine. I will also cover different types of delivery systems (a shot, nasal mist, etc) and the side-effects that might come from each.
In the next article, I’ll talk about why vaccines might be necessary (and I’ll cover the opposing view, why they might not be necessary). I will also try to focus on the substance known as Thimerosal, and whether there is any link to autism with use of this substance.
Since I want to write a trilogy ( ) the third article will focus on other diseases that may be associated with vaccination in childhood, and some things you can look for to prevent these conditions.
So, what is a vaccine? At its heart, a vaccine is a substance that can help your body achieve immunity against something. In other words, a vaccine is supposed to offer you protection against a certain disease.
- Live attenuated vaccines
- Inactivated (killed) vaccines
- Toxoid Vaccines
- Component Vaccines
Live attenuated vaccines contain live (of course) cultures of the creature that you want to protect against. The chickenpox vaccine is a perfect example of this.
Inactivated (killed) vaccines contain heat killed or chemically killed creatures. An example would be the seasonal flu shot.
Toxoid vaccines contain the poisons that organisms produce. These poisons have been inactivated through heat or chemicals. The diphtheria and tetanus vaccines are good examples of this type.
Component vaccines are made from parts ONLY of the organisms. Some of the newest vaccines are made this way, including the hepatitis vaccines.
All 4 vaccines have good and bad points. The only one that can actually cause symptoms of the illness (but not nearly as bad as the real illness) is the live attenuated type.
OK, so we all know (at least now! ) that vaccines contain either the organisms themselves, their toxins, OR parts of the organisms. What else could be in a vaccine?
First thing on the list are substances known as adjuvants. These substances are put in to increase your body’s response to the vaccine. Without these substances, most vaccines would have to be repeated many more times than they already are in order for you to have full immunity. Some adjuvants include aluminum salts, squalene (an organic adjuvant), and some oil-based adjuvants. However, aluminum salts are much more common in human based vaccines – the others are mainly used in animal vaccines.
Some proteins may be present, such as egg protein in flue and yellow fever vaccines, since these vaccines are grown in chicken eggs.
Formaldehyde (used for embalming) might be found in trace amounts – it is used to chemically kill some organisms found in vaccines.
MSG might be found as a stabilizer in a few vaccines – helps them remain unchanged when exposed to heat, light, acidity, or humidity.
A preservative might be added to multi-dose vials of vaccine. These are usually where the controversy enters, when substances such as Thimerosal are used (more in a future article).
Just as a side note, for those concerned about the formaldehyde sometimes found in vaccines. Yes, formaldehyde is found in embalming fluid. But, more formaldehyde than you are exposed to in vaccines is found in the air, particularly indoors. It can be put into the air by new wood products, new clothing, or just found in the environment throughout the day. So, while the thought that there might be formaldehyde (trace amounts) found in a vaccine, it shouldn’t be too concerning.
OK, so a quick note about delivery. Besides the obvious needle and nasal mist routes, there are oral vaccines, and a new vaccine delivery using microneedles. Here are some of the side effects from each approach:
- Injection – So you have redness at the site of injection, soreness, warmth, swelling, and drainage (through the needle poke). Some injections might cause a fever – if it is over 101, you should see your doctor about a possible reaction to the vaccine.
- Nasal Mist – runny nose, nasal congestion (stuffy nose), sore throat, and fever (again, if over 101, see your doctor)
- Oral Vaccine – entirely depends on the vaccine given. General side effects might include sore throat, possibly nausea and diarrhea. Again, fever is possible with most vaccines, if above 101, see your doctor.
- Microneedle – still experimental, will probably know more in the future. Likely to be similar (but less than) the side effects of injected vaccines.
So, there you have it – the who, what, and how of the vaccine world. Next time we’ll talk about Thimerosal, any possible link to Autism spectrum disorder, and probably talk about other preservatives and substances added to vaccines and their possible side effects.