The Unfiltered Truth About Vaccines
Why Vaccines are important
Vaccines are a modern miracle. They prevent diseases that can be dangerous, or even deadly. Vaccines work by helping your body’s natural defenses to safely develop immunity to disease. This way you and your family can avoid getting sick and avoid passing the illness on to others. By getting your vaccines, you can stay safe from disease and keep your family and community from getting sick as well.
Who should get vaccines?
Almost everyone. Vaccines are recommended for all ages, infants, children, teenagers, and adults. Someone with a compromised immune system or who has had a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine should see their primary care provider to discuss which vaccines are right for them. Vaccines prevent the spread of contagious, dangerous, and deadly diseases. It is even more important during the COVID pandemic to get your scheduled vaccines. When you are sick with one illness, like the flu, your immune system decreases while your body fights that infection. This can make it even easier for you to get another infection such as COVID-19. So be sure you protect yourself, your family, and your community by getting your vaccines today!
When to Get Vaccines
Vaccines should begin at birth and should be received throughout a person’s life along with boosters to ensure you have continued protection. Check with your primary care provider or your child’s pediatrician to find out when to get certain vaccines based on age or visit the CDC vaccine schedule here. Additionally, you should receive vaccines if you are traveling internationally to certain regions.
Schedule an appointment with your primary care provider or your child’s pediatrician to get your latest vaccines or boosters. Keep an eye out for annual flu vaccine clinics as well.
Are Vaccines Safe?
Yes, they are safe. Vaccines go through years of research and trials before they are deemed safe for you and your family.
What is a Vaccine?
Your immune system makes antibodies that fight disease and create a blueprint on how to fight that disease in the future. By getting a vaccine, your body can create antibodies and prepare in case you come in contact with that disease. It’s better to get a vaccine rather than wait for your body to naturally fight disease because some diseases, although thought to be mild, can cause serious medical problems, lead to permanent damage, a lifetime of health problems, or even death.
There are several types of vaccines such as those made from live, attenuated (weakened) viruses, inactivated (killed) viruses, and those made from chemicals the virus or bacteria produces. They are all designed to help your body build immunity against diseases. Unlike medicines, which treat or cure diseases, vaccines prevent them.
Vaccines are designed to fight specific strains of a disease. This means that some diseases require vaccines several times in a person’s life or every year to keep the person protected. For instance, it is recommended that you receive the flu vaccine every year to protect against the latest strain in circulation.
Side Effects of Vaccines
Getting a vaccine is much safer than getting the diseases the vaccines prevent. Vaccines do not cause the diseases they are designed to prevent. Some people may have mild side effects which are a sign that your body is building immunity.
Common side effects of vaccines include:
- Pain, swelling, or redness where the shot was given
- Mild fever
- Muscle and joint aches
In extremely rare cases, a person may experience an allergic reaction to a vaccine. Contact your primary care provider if you become concerned with the effects after receiving a vaccine.
What Ingredients Are in a Vaccine?
Each ingredient in a vaccine serves a specific purpose:
- provide immunity (protection)
- keep the vaccine safe and long-lasting
- for the production of the vaccine
Some contain trace amounts of substances that could be harmful in a large dose. These include formaldehyde, aluminum, and mercury. But the amount used in the vaccines is so small that they are completely safe. For example, over the course of all vaccinations by the age of 2, a child will take in 4mg of aluminum. A breastfed baby will take in 10mg in 6 months. Soy-based formula delivers 120mg in 6 months. In addition, infants have 10 times as much formaldehyde naturally occurring in their bodies than what is contained in a vaccine. And the toxic form of mercury has never been used in vaccines.
|Type of Ingredient||Example(s)||Purpose||Most common source found|
|Thimerosal (only in multi-dose vials of flu vaccine)*||To prevent contamination
|From eating foods such as certain kinds of fish, mercury (which thimerosal contains) gets into the body|
|To help boost the body’s response to the vaccine
|From drinking water, infant formula, or use of health products such as antacids, buffered aspirin, and antiperspirants|
|To keep the vaccine effective after manufactured.
|From eating food such as Jell-O® and resides in body naturally|
|Residual cell culture materials
|To grow enough of the virus or bacteria to make the vaccine
|From eating foods containing eggs|
|Residual inactivating ingredients
|To kill viruses or inactivate toxins during the manufacturing process
|Resides in body naturally (more in body than vaccines). Also found automobile exhaust, and household furnishing such as carpets and upholstery.|
|To prevent contamination by bacteria during the vaccine manufacturing process
|Antibiotics that people are most likely to be allergic to — like penicillin — aren’t used in vaccines|
Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention
* 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 processed differently in the body and it’s less likely to build up in the body — and because it’s used in tiny amounts. Even so, most vaccines do not have any thimerosal in them.
^ Because influenza and yellow fever vaccines are both made in eggs, egg proteins are present in the final products. However, there are two new flu vaccines now available for people with egg allergies. 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.
†Formaldehyde is diluted during the vaccine manufacturing process, but residual quantities of formaldehyde may be found in some current vaccines. 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.