A Fact-by-Fact Response to Vaccines 101: Too Much Too Soon?

Contributed to TLB by Mama Brave

There’s an article circulating from the scientificparent.org that I’d like to go over as I’ve seen it popping up a lot. I admit I was impressed by the article: It’s well-written, well-resourced, doesn’t call parents “ignorant” and doesn’t even mention Jenny McCarthy… That’s progress!

However, when it comes to the facts, there are some things that are lacking.

The Immune System: Antigens, Antibodies, and Allergies

The Immune System and Antigens

First off, the article does a great job explaining what antigens are. This is important… Parents should know and understand the components of vaccines! Antigens in a vaccine are the weakened or killed virus, bacteria, or toxoid which antibodies are produced against.

The article goes on to talk about how antigens work with the immune system. The mistake, however, is assuming that vaccines affect the immune system in the same way as pathogens that we come across naturally in our daily life.

This is the first, and probably the most important, red flag in the article:

And the great thing is that it doesn’t matter to your immune system how you became immune (either by getting sick and then getting better or through a vaccine), immunity is immunity. The benefit from acquiring immunity through a vaccine is that your child never gets the illness, or has any of the associated risks from the illness, and they don’t pass the illness along to anyone else.

Our immune systems are far more involved than a one-step system. They do not just launch antibodies in response to a foreign invader. It matters how the invader got there, and in which way the body is primed to respond to it. When we are exposed to disease, our immune system gets to work. Pathogens enter in through the mouth, nose, eyes, and openings in the skin. They pass through the body’s natural defenses: the mucous membranes, tonsils, thymus, lymph nodes, vessels, and spleen are all important in helping the body to mount a defense against disease.

Vaccines, however, bypass these natural defenses and create an imbalanced immune response. This is why immunity is not immunity. While most disease we encounter provides lifelong protection, vaccines are not always effective and do not confer lifelong immunity.

The Immune System and Allergies

Unfortunately, it’s not just the antigens that are bypassing the body’s natural defenses. All of the ingredients in the vaccine are bypassing the body’s natural barriers as well, hindering our body’s ability to absorb and clear them slowly.

Parents today are all too familiar with the meanings of the words “allergy” and “anaphylactic”. But did you know that the concept of allergies and anaphylaxis did not even exist before vaccines? The European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology notes the first time that the concept of an allergy was realized and how vaccines were affecting the immune system in a strange way that had never been seen before:

Meanwhile, the process of industrialization of Europe and
North America and the new antitoxin parenteral treatments
and vaccines caused new diseases and strange reactions that
physicians could not explain.
The journal continues to explain the development of the theory of an allergy through an experiment in which rabbits injected with horse serum developed increasingly strong reactions with each injection:
In other words, an increased specific sensitivity followed repeated injections of a foreign protein that was primarily nontoxic.
The article continues on:
Theobald Smith noted in 1903 that guinea pigs used to standardize diphtheria toxin (injected with mixtures of toxin and horse serum) often died when injected several weeks later with normal horse serum.

In a 1906 published article, this reaction was given a new name for the first time: allergy. The 1906 article notes that the exposure of the body to a substance resulted in antibodies, and that these could be protective against disease, or harmful to the body by causing a hypersensitive reaction with symptoms and signs of illness.

So we see that the theory of the imbalanced immune system when a substance bypasses the normal immune barriers is not a new idea. While the diphtheria toxin was injected intending to create an immune response to protect against diphtheria disease, the immune system took the components of the injection as a whole and created an immune response against the horse serum. The body had an abnormal, hypersensitive reaction to the horse serum, an otherwise harmless ingredient.

Antigens Aren’t the Problem

I get tired of articles like this reassuring parents that there are less antigens in vaccines now than ever before and how we are exposed to antigens every day and our immune system can handle 10,000 at once and therefore vaccines are safe!

I wish we would stop talking about antigens so much and start talking about…

aluminum phosphate, formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, 2-Phenoxyethanol, aluminum hydroxide, polysorbate 80 (Tween 80), sodium chloride, thimerosal, gelatin, neomycin sulfate, polymyxin B, yeast protein, aluminum salts, bovine serum albumin, neomycin, sucrose, purified capsular polysaccharide, amorphous aluminum hydroxphosphate sulfate, amino acid supplement, polysorbate 20 (Tween 20), formalin, phosphate buffered saline, MRC-5 cellular proteins (from aborted fetal cells), aminoglycoside antibiotic, phosphate buffers, disodium phosphate, dihydrate, sodium dihydrogen, insect cell and viral protein, bacterial cell protein, L-histidine, sodium borate, amorphous aluminum hydroxyphosphate sulfate adjuvant, monobasic sodium phosphate, monobasic potassium phosphate, potassium chloride, calcium chloride, sodium taurodeoxycholate, ovalbumin, mercury, sodium, chloride, beta-propiolacton, egg proteins, CTAB, kanmycin, octoxynol-10 (Triton X-100), a-tocopheryl hydrogen succinate, hydrocortisone, gentamicin sulfate, sodium deoxycholate, host cell proteins, baculovirus, Triton X-100, residual MDCK cell protein (canine cells from a female adult Cocker Spaniel), other cell proteins, MDCK cell DNA, cetyltrimethylammonium bromide, B-propiolactone, phosphate-buffered saline solution, monosodium glutamate, hydrolyzed porcine gelatin, arginine, dibasic potassium phosphate, ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), polymyxin, betapropiolactone, nonylphenol ethoxylate, sorbitol, sodium phosphate, hydrolyzed gelatin, recombinant human albumin, fetal bovine serum, other buffer and media ingredients, urea, monodium L-glutamate, human albumin, sodium bicarbonate, potassium phosphate, residual components of MRC-5 cells (including DNA and protein), sodium phosphate dibasic, succinate buffer, isotonic saline solution, phenol, streptomycin, residual calf serum, polygeline (processed bovine gelatin), human serum albumin, potassium glutamate, sodium EDTA, bovine serum, chicken protein, chlortetracycline, amphotericin B), amino acids, dextran, Dulbecco’s Modified Eagle Medium (sodium chloride, magnesium sulfate, ferric (III) nitrate, sodium pyruvate, D-glucose, concentrated vitamin solution, L-cystine, L-tyrosine, amino acids solution, L-glutamine, sodium hydrogenocarbonate, phenol red), calcium carbonate, xanthan, monosodium L-glutamate, bovine calf serum, monobasic, EDTA


Why do we insist on pretending that antigens are the only components in a vaccine when we are talking to parents? Do we really expect to dumb down the information that much and get away with it?

Here is what the current schedule actually looks like compared to past schedule when you look at the entire vaccine, not just antigens. The current schedule has gone from a few vaccines given in one dose to 14 vaccines given in 60 doses between the ages of 0-6. While antigens in this number of vaccines have been studied, individual ingredients given in today’s schedule has not been studied (especially not in the form of injection), and the entire schedule of ingredients as a whole has never been studied.


The amount of antigens and preservatives is not the point.

The point is:

All of these ingredients.

All of these ingredients combined.

All of these ingredients combined and injected.

All of these ingredients combined and injected 60 times.

All of these ingredients combined and injected 60 times into a baby.

While the number of antigens in vaccines have gone down, there are still other ingredients in vaccines that our children are being exposed to in toxic levels.


I’ve seen an increasing drive in the past year or two to scare parents about chickenpox. The upcoming generation of parents has never seen chickenpox. The vaccine became available in 1995, and vaccinated children are now growing up and having their own babies. Now they are having babies of their own (and not passing maternal antibodies on to those babies) and they are eating up the media push that chickenpox is dangerous and all children need to be vaccinated against it.

The revelation that I had chickenpox as a child will soon make children gasp and ask, “You had chickenpox as a child… And you survived!?” Yep, just like almost all other healthy children. The public’s shift in perception to viewing chickenpox as a dangerous, scary childhood illness of the past reminds me of how people viewed measles in the 1960s (a common, childhood disease; nothing to panic over) compared to now.

Back to the article, which states:

Before the chicken pox (varicella) vaccine was introduced, about 100 children died every year from chicken pox. This may not seem like a lot. But if it is your child, it is the only one that matters.

First of all, it was not 100 children that died every year from chickenpox. 100 was the total number of deaths from chickenpox, in all age groups, out of about 4 million cases in the U.S. each year.

Before the chickenpox vaccine, the total risk of dying from chickenpox was 1 in 60,000 cases. Most deaths were adults and children with compromised immune systems… People who today are unable to receive the chickenpox vaccine anyway.

Broken down by age, the death rate for chickenpox was:

  • Children aged 1-14 years: 1 death for every 100,000 cases
  • 15-19 years: 1 death for every 37,000 cases
  • 30-49 years: 1 death for every 4,000 cases

You can view these statistics for yourself from the CDC Pink Book.

Since 2010, there have been 22,619 adverse events reported following vaccination against varicella (chickenpox). 937 of those cases were serious, including reactions such as anaphylaxis, convulsions, Guillain-Barre syndrome, cases where the patient stopped breathing, systemic lupus, encephalitis, meningitis, new onset type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune diseases, and other serious reactions. There have also been 46 deaths reported in this same time frame.

The problem with reported adverse events from vaccination is that they are severely underreported. It is estimated that the true number of vaccine reactions is between 10 to 100 times higher than the reported number.

Whether the number of actual deaths is 46, 460, or 4,600, it is inexcusable. What matters is that it is your child.

So what about those with compromised immune systems? The ones we are protecting from chickenpox by all getting our vaccine?

Unfortunately, chickenpox rash and fever are common side affects of the chickenpox vaccine. Shingles can also be caused by the chickenpox vaccine. A recently vaccinated person who develops chickenpox or shingles from the vaccine can shed the vaccine virus and infect others. It is recommended that those who have been recently vaccinated who develop symptoms avoid contact with those who are a high risk for complications, such as those with compromised immune systems. Most doctors do not properly inform parents of the risks of their recently vaccinated child spreading chickenpox to others through chickenpox or shingles infection.

Breakthrough infections also occur very frequently in those vaccinated against chickenpox. A breakthrough infection occurs when the vaccine is not effective enough to prevent the disease in the person who was vaccinated for it. More than half of all reported cases of chickenpox in 2010 were breakthrough infections, according to the CDC.

“Prevent the disease completely with a vaccine”? Not so much.

Combination Shots and Spacing Out Vaccines

The article continues by addressing a question about the safety of combination shots and whether it might be safer to space them out. The answer given to this question:

The short answer, and again this is counterintuitive, is that it actually increases your child’s risk of experiencing an adverse reaction to a vaccine if they are given one at a time.

In some vaccines, we’re able to combine the antigens for multiple viruses or bacteria into one shot. This allows us to actually give not just fewer total antigens but smaller amounts of each antigen, as the multiple components of the vaccine work together to improve the body’s immune response.

This entire quote confuses me. We’ve already established that antigens in vaccines are safe and are not the main concern, so to double back and say it is safer to give less antigens is somewhat of a moot point.

That aside, there is absolutely no evidence that supports the claim that children are at a greater risk of adverse reactions if vaccines are given one at a time. In fact, both the CDC and the World Health Organization state that the effectiveness of a vaccine does not change based on if it is given in combination with other shots or as an individual shot.

The CDC, however, does state that certain combinations given together can cause fever and occasionally febrile seizures.

In fact, research shows that waiting until 15 months or older to give the first dose of measles vaccine increases the effectiveness of the vaccine and provides greater protection for children. Studies show that children given the first dose of measles vaccine between 12-13 months of age have a 5 times higher risk of contracting measles than children given the vaccine at age 15 months or older.

Aluminum in Vaccines

The last question apparently posed in this article was about aluminum and mercury being injected “into the bloodstream”.

While it is true that aluminum is abundant and naturally occurring, that does not make it safe to inject into our babies’ bodies.

First, lets address why aluminum is even in vaccines.

Aluminum is put in vaccines as an adjuvant. Because antigens in vaccines are weakened or killed, they are not strong enough to catch the attention of the immune system on their own. An adjuvant is something used in a vaccine to alert the immune system. It gets its attention. How does it do this? The body recognizes it as foreign and attacks it. This stimulates the immune response against the antigen in the vaccine as well. The point of aluminum is that it is not supposed to be in the body, therefore its presence alarms the immune system into a fight response.

Ingestion Vs. Injection

In their new book, The Vaccine-Friendly Plan, Paul Thomas, M.D., and Jennifer Margulis, Ph. D., sum up the dangers of injected aluminum in vaccines beautifully:

A healthy gut prevents ingested aluminum from being absorbed into the body. As the digestive process breaks it down, the aluminum that does enter the blood-stream enters gradually over several hours.

When aluminum is injected intramuscularly, the exposure happens all at once. When several aluminum-containing shots are administered at the same time, a baby can be getting as much as an entire milligram (1,000 micograms) of aluminum.

If the baby is able to shunt this much aluminum out of his body, then the high exposure in the short amount of time should not cause lasting harm to his brain or body.

But if the baby cannot rid his body of aluminum-for whatever reason- then the results can be devastating.

Only 1% of aluminum in food or breast milk is absorbed into the bloodstream once it is filtered through the digestive tract. However, vaccines bypass the digestive tract and 100% of aluminum in vaccines is absorbed into the bloodstream at once.

A 2009 study in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology examined infants’ exposure to aluminum from vaccines and breast milk during the first 6 months of life. The study specifically examined injected aluminum rather than ingested aluminum, and found that infants are often exposed to and retain higher amounts of aluminum in vaccines than when exposed through breast milk. It also examined aluminum and mercury exposure through thimerosal together and found that both were neuro-toxic and can kill motor neurons. It also found that aluminum absorbed enterally (through the digestive system and gut) was likely eliminated from the body much faster than adjuvant aluminum because “a longer elimination is one of the very functions of adjuvants”.

Mercury in Vaccines

The article continues on to address mercury in vaccines, noting that there are two different types of mercury. For the purposes of the rest of this post, “thimerosal” will imply ethylmercury, which is the type used in vaccines. The Journal of Pediatrics (2001) states:

Limited data on toxicity from low-dose exposures to ethylmercury are available, but toxicity may be similar to that of methylmercury. Chronic, low-dose methylmercury exposure may cause subtle neurologic abnormalities.

In other words, a “different type” of mercury does not mean a safer type. Although ethylmercury does not necessarily build up in the body as methylmercury does, that alone does not make it less toxic upon exposure. And indeed, the Material Safety Data Sheet on Thimerosal doesn’t make it sound like something that should be injected into a baby’s body.

A 2012 study published in the Journal of Toxicology found that ethylmercury from thimerosal is a mitochondrial toxin in humans, leading to cell death. It notes that in someone with a mitochondrial disorder, “a mitochondrial toxin can be life altering or life threatening”. (Some of you may be familiar with the name Hannah Poling, who received compensation from the government after her vaccines triggered her mitochondrial disease, causing severe autism.)

It’s important to note that thimerosal was never banned from vaccines. Its removal was merely a suggestion given in 1999 by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the US Public Health Service.

The influenza vaccine was recommended for all babies ages 6 months and up starting in 2004, to be given yearly for all age groups. Babies get their first two doses at age 6 months and again at 7 months, and yearly after that. The influenza vaccine approved for under age 2 is the inactivated influenza vaccine, which contains 25mcg of mercury/0.5-mL dose in the multidose containers.

According to the CDC the single-dose influenza vaccines are “preservative-free”.

Inactivated influenza vaccine that does not contain thimerosal as a preservative has <1 mcg mercury/0.5-mL dose or <0.5 mcg mercury/0.25-mL dose.

These vaccines are called preservative-free even though they contain trace amounts of mercury.

Babies are now getting 8 doses of influenza vaccine before age 6.

You can see more about what thimerosal dose to the brain and discussions in government hearings about its safety at the C-Span website,  here.

The last point I want to address in the article is this:

Additionally I need to clarify one important misconception about vaccinations. It’s important to know that when we vaccinate a child we are not injecting things into their bloodstream. Vaccines go into the skin or muscle and the body then responds to them there. They are not injected into a vein or artery.

While it’s true that vaccines are not literally injected directly into the bloodstream, they are absorbed into the bloodstream after injection. Some vaccines are injected into the muscle; these are absorbed quickly into the bloodstream. Others are injected into the fatty tissues, these are absorbed into the bloodstream over a period of 24 hours.

Qualifications for Vaccine Research

I’ll end with this note: I am not a medical professional. I do not have a medical degree. As such, this article is not intended to be used as medical advice. Consult your doctor if you have medical questions.

But DO use this article to remember this:

You do not have to be a medical professional to research and learn about vaccines for your children. You do not have to have a degree. You do not have to be a scientist. This information is available to you, and you are capable of researching and learning.

Here is what qualifies you to research, question, and learn more about vaccines.

You are:

  • A parent
  • Not a parent
  • A college-educated person
  • A person with no college education
  • Curious
  • Interested in learning more
  • Skeptical about the media’s representation about vaccines and disease
  • A human being with rights and choices over your own body

Don’t assume your doctor’s facts are correct because they hold a degree. Check your resources. Check your facts. Research, research, research! ~Mama Brave | vaccinelinks


TLB recommends  vaccinelinks for more informative articles about Vaccinations.


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