Debunking Vaccine Ingredient Myths

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It is true that some vaccine ingredients could be toxic…at much higher doses. But any substance — even water or the sun — can be toxic given a large enough dose. And at a very low dose, even a highly toxic substance can be safe. Just look at Botox — one of the most toxic substances known to hu­manity — which is injected in small quantities into a person’s face to reduce wrinkles.

Many people who aren’t scientists are posting articles on the Internet about harmful ingredients in vaccines. To debunk just one popular myth, NO vaccine contains, or has ever contained, even a molecule of antifreeze. But if you search the web, you can easily find a dozen websites that continue to claim that they do.


Another idea to remember when considering ingredients in vaccines is that the whole doesn't always equal the sum of its parts. A simple example of this theory can be found in the example of everyday table salt. Table salt is made of two very dangerous elements, chlorine and sodium. Chlorine is a dangerous gas; sodium is a highly reactive element that explodes when it comes into contact with water. Yet if you combine these two dangerous elements, you get a very safe compound: simple table salt.

Remember that before you classify a component as a “toxin,” you must consider more than whether or not it is simply "in there." You have to look at the quantity, how it is used, whether it is combined with some other element, whether it is used as part of the production and then stripped back out, and many other factors.

So sure, be vigilant and consider the ingredients of vaccines. But while you may not be able to pronounce every ingredient in the list, also keep this in mind: Vaccines have made a significant impact in the health and reduced mortality of dangerous diseases.


I know it sounds freaky, as they use this when preserving dead people, right? But did you know that formaldehyde is produced naturally in the human body as a part of normal functions of the body to produce energy and build the basic materials needed for important life processes?

It’s also important to consider that we are routinely exposed to formaldehyde through automobile exhaust, household products and furnishings such as carpets, upholstery, cosmetics, paint and felt-tip markers; and in health products such as antihistamines, cough drops and mouthwash.

Specific to vaccinations, formaldehyde is diluted during the vaccine manufacturing process, but residual quantities of formaldehyde may be found in some current vaccines. According to the FDA, the amount of formaldehyde present in some vaccines is so small compared to the concentration that occurs naturally in the body that it does not pose a safety concern. 


What is an adjuvant? The CDC explains:

“An adjuvant is a substance that is added to a vaccine to increase the body's immune response to the vaccine. Vaccines containing adjuvants are tested for safety in clinical trials before they are licensed for use in the United States, and they are continuously monitored by CDC and FDA.”

The most common adjuvant in vaccines is aluminum. Aluminum is commonly found in food, water, infant formula and even breast milk.

And the FDA advises: “Vaccines containing an aluminum adjuvant have a demonstrated safety profile of over six decades of use.”

Here’s a little context. The average person takes in an estimated 30 to 50 mg of aluminum every day, mainly from foods, drinking water and medicines. Not all vaccines contain aluminum, but those that do typically contain about .125 mg to .625 mg per dose, or roughly 1% of that daily average.

Without the use of an adjuvant, we would need to administer more shots in a given vaccine series or face lower immunity and less protection from the disease.

Egg Protein

According to the CDC: “Egg protein is found in influenza and yellow fever vaccines, which are prepared using chicken eggs. Ordinarily, persons who are able to eat eggs or egg products safely can receive these vaccines.”

However, if your child has had an allergic reaction to eggs or egg products, be sure to discuss this with your child's doctor. He or she should be able to address your concerns.



As scary as that ingredient list may sound on the surface, vaccine-preventable diseases are way, way scarier.

This article was written by Heidi Parker, Executive Director of Immunize Nevada, Lynnette Bellin, Director of Strategic Communications for Immunize Nevada and Mikalee Byerman, Director of Audience Engagement at Estipona Group.  It was reviewed for medical accuracy by Dr Shaji Mathew, MD, PhD, FAAP of Summit Pediatrics.  




Immunize Nevada

Immunize Nevada, an award winning 501c3 non profit, is widely recognized as Nevada’s trusted resource for immunizations and community health for all ages by fostering education and statewide collaboration.


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