Injection vs Ingestion. Myths and Facts.

So you’re in a discussion about vaccines and their ingredients and somebody pulls out the conversation stopper. “The amount of xyz in a vaccine might be tiny, but you’re injecting it. And injection is different to ingestion.” You’re stumped. You really have to stop and think hard about it. You know they’re qualitatively different, but you don’t know how to explain exactly why it’s not particularly important.

Yes, they are different. However making a broad and sweeping claim like that without context; being exact about the substance, amount and how the body processes it, is vacuous. And the difference should not be overstated because vaccine ingredients are actually safe in these tiny amounts.

The ingredients considered by many to be the “toxic chemicals” in vaccines are really so tiny compared to other sources, that the route of entry difference does not negate the point that these amounts are not enough to do harm. And it’s not like an injected substance just sits there.  The body has processes through which it disposes of substances that penetrate the skin. For example, foreign particles can be eaten in a process called phagocytosis or they can attach to carrier molecules in the blood which are then excreted.

In order to be excreted, a substance must be absorbed into the blood first. Some substances aren’t absorbed very well, or at all. Once an injected substance reaches the bloodstream, it’s treated the same way by the body as an ingested substance that reaches the bloodstream. After all, where does our food go once it’s broken down and processed by our digestive system? You guessed it, into our bloodstream. But do any of the vaccine ingredients even reach the bloodstream? Are they modified before they reach the bloodstream? Yes and yes. But I need to be really specific about that.

The ingestion/injection trope usually comes up when you discuss formaldehyde, aluminium or MSG. How the ingredient gets into the bloodstream is different for each substance, and you have to understand the chemistry of the substance, how much actually ends up in the bloodstream, how much is retained in the body and how much is excreted.

Formaldehyde
Formaldehyde from an injected vaccine would immediately start to be taken up by surrounding cells. Some of it would reach the bloodstream, but it is quickly broken down. The amount in a vaccine would be metabolised in ~10 minutes.  Our bodies and cells are very familiar with formaldehyde. Every cell in the human body produces formaldehyde and the average adult produces between 50 and 55 g, or 50-55 000 000 micrograms every day.

Formaldehyde is already present in our blood and cells and the amount from a vaccine is so miniscule that the blood does not even register a difference. There is 120 times more formaldehyde in a pear than in a vaccine.   But small amounts of ingested formaldehyde are not harmful either because the gut breaks it down. The most harmful route for formaldehyde is inhalation, and it can be toxic where there is chronic, long term exposure eg. factory workers breathing in daily fumes.

Aluminium
The aluminium in vaccines is not a heavy metal. It is not even in metallic form as portrayed by vaccine fearmongerers. It is in the form of a salt, usually aluminium hydroxide. The aluminium in aluminium hydroxide is not readily bioavailable and retention is extremely low from both ingestion and injection.

Aluminium salts that you ingest (eg. antacids, buffered aspirin, some processed foods) are mostly excreted before they get to enter the bloodstream. In healthy subjects, less than 0.3% of aluminium that you eat is absorbed via the GI tract and the kidneys effectively eliminate aluminium from the body. Intravenous infusion of products containing aluminium (ie injection directly into the bloodstream via a drip connected to a vein, as with intravenous nutrition pouches for patients in a hospital) or renal dysfunction are the only real scenarios where aluminium has the potential to accumulate.

Once aluminium is in the bloodstream, it is processed similarly regardless of the source. It just depends on the amount received and if the kidneys can keep up. Continuous infusion, we are talking litres here, of a nutrition product delivered directly into the bloodstream, is much more of a deal than a miniscule amount of aluminium hydroxide in a 0.5 ml vaccine injected into muscle. Most of the injected aluminium from vaccines will eventually enter the bloodstream, but it’s not taken up readily by the cells, it is not bioavailable.

Only a very tiny percentage of it will be “dissolved” in the blood – it’s in the form of precipitate bound to carrier proteins. Approximately 89 percent of this aluminium is processed by binding to a protein called transferrin, and the rest is bound to citrate. The majority of the bound aluminium will be processed and eliminated through the kidneys, a small amount through bile and faeces, and a tiny amount is retained in tissues of the body.

About 50% of the aluminium in the bloodstream is eliminated in less than 24 hours, more than 75% is eliminated within two weeks and even more over time. A diminishingly small amount may be retained. But we’re talking about a fraction of two hundredths of bugger all. The ability of the body to rapidly eliminate aluminium hydroxide accounts for its excellent record of safety as a vaccine adjuvant.

MSG
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is also a salt – a salt of glutamic acid. MSG is found naturally in common fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, mushrooms, peas and broccoli. MSG found naturally in these foods is the same as the MSG salt added to foods as a flavour enhancer, is the same as the MSG found in vaccines.  Extremely tiny amounts of MSG are used in vaccines to preserve them against light, acidity and humidity.

The nasal flu vaccine contains 0.188 mg, chickenpox vaccine 0.5 mg and one MMR/chicken pox combo shot has 0.4 mg of MSG. Such tiny amounts are harmless. MSG is NOT a neurotoxin as claimed by vaccine fearmongerers. In food, it works as a flavour enhancer by stimulating the nerve endings on your taste receptors, reducing the need for added table salt. But it does not damage or destroy nerve endings in your brain. Injection does not change the fact that it harmlessly and readily dissolves in bodily fluids. It dissociates into sodium and glutamate whether ingested or injected.

Sodium and glutamate (an amino acid) are then readily used by the body. Some people report mild and transient symptoms after eating foods with added MSG, though human studies have failed to confirm the involvement of MSG in “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome”. However food regulatory authorities do not discount the possibility of a sensitivity in some people. In these people, 3000 mg has triggered it.  But it is not an allergy, it is not immune mediated, it is not toxin related. It appears to be a dose related sensitivity.

In any case, the MSG found naturally in foods or added to foods, is magnitudes higher than what is contained in vaccines. Half a cup of peas contains ~1490 times the amount and an average serving of Chinese food contains ~4000 times the amount of MSG in the chicken pox vaccine. Even in MSG sensitive people, the amount of MSG in the chicken pox vaccine is nearly 16 000 times less than the amount at which susceptible people have been found to be sensitive to.

So that’s the most controversial ingredients discussed. I will now talk about the antigens, the immune generating bits of the vaccine.  (Feel free to ask questions about any other vaccine ingredients in the comments section.)

Antigens
Ultimately, the difference between ingestion and injection when we are talking about vaccine antigens, is an immune response that is required for immunisation to occur.   That is why they are injected.

Vaccine critics say that vaccination “bypasses” the immune system (it doesn’t). Vaccines bypass the first couple lines of defence, because they need to. We want them to pass the first lines of defence to produce the desired effect – an effective immune response.  (And in order to keep that response going to induce a memory response, aluminium adjuvants are used in the non-live vaccines).

The vaccine antigens – those dead or damaged bits of viruses and bacteria used to promote the immune response – are not left behind and do not reach the bloodstream in the same form. They are permanently altered by your immune cells, engulfed and rendered useless in the process of making antibodies.

The process by which dead pathogens are permanently altered/destroyed by immune cells is depicted well in this simple cartoon. Image credit: Maki Naro Maki Naro what happens to dead pathogens

I’ve heard vaccine critics compare vaccines to snake venom. This is a completely inaccurate comparison. Snake venom contains an active neurotoxin. Drinking snake venom is absolutely not the same as being injected with it. The gut will break down the venom in the same way it digests proteins in food, rendering it useless. If you consumed it, it would not hit the bloodstream in original active and potent form. If a snake bites you, there is nothing underneath your skin or in your muscle to neutralize the venom. It is not broken down so it is able to travel quickly to your lymph glands reach the blood stream and from there it can quickly get to your nervous system and heart.

Vaccine ingredients are not harmful just because they are injected. Vaccines are not even remotely like poisonous venom. Venom contains an active neurotoxin and vaccines do not. The antigens in a vaccine are only mildly active – they’re either dead or damaged. They are active enough to cause an immune response, but not potent enough to cause harm. And the ingredients are inactive. They are not neurotoxic either. The tiny amounts of the ingredients found in vaccines are not toxic whether ingested or injected.

They don’t need to pass through any magical natural wall of protection. The body can recognise them as foreign and phagocytose them. Or they end up in the bloodstream and are excreted. I will explain exactly what happens to a vaccine after it is injected later on in this piece.

So why can’t we have ingestible vaccines?
Because most would have difficulty getting past the hostile environment that is our gastro-intestinal tract. The stomach acid, enzymes, gut bacteria and other potential antigen killers in our gut would render them useless. The exception here is the oral rotavirus vaccine, which happens to be a gut pathogen and so the vaccine works best delivered orally. The oral rotavirus vaccine is very effective in the prevention of wild rotavirus infection.

Polio is also a gut pathogen, and both oral and injected forms of polio work. (More on the difference between the vaccines and their immune responses later). Every disease that we vaccinate for has a preferred route of entry for how it infects the body. Some go through the oral/gut route (eg. polio and rotavirus) some through the oral/respiratory route (eg. diphtheria, whooping cough, influenza, measles, chicken pox) and some via the skin (eg. tetanus, rabies, chicken pox).

Pathogens that enter via the airways, like pertussis and influenza have injectable vaccines to combat them. Intranasal forms are also available. In the development of vaccines, the best route of delivery is studied and tested to achieve maximum benefit and highest level of safety.

Here is what happens to a vaccine once it’s injected: What happens to a vaccine after it's injectedImage source

  1. The vaccine penetrates through the skin barrier and the contents are released into muscle.
  2. Inside the muscle tissue, the vaccine antigens attract immune cells such as  dendritic cells, monocytes and neutrophils.
  3. The immune cells change their surface receptors and start to migrate towards the lymph vessels.
  4. These immune cells (which now have the “recipe” to make antibodies) arrive at the lymph nodes.
  5. Lymph nodes produce antibodies to combat the antigen from the vaccine.
  6. Antigen is phagocytosed (eaten) by a macrophage (an immune cell) as depicted above.

Common injection/ingestion myths:
Some of the common arguments that you will encounter with the ingestion/injection trope are:

Myth 1:  Vaccines aren’t ‘natural’ because they ‘bypass’ the immune system. The idea behind this is that vaccines bypass the skin barrier and this is not “natural”. But the skin is not the body’s only protective barrier. Or perhaps the thinking is that any immunity from vaccines is somehow inferior or ‘artificial’ because it is different to how it would happen naturally. This is not true.

(a) Vaccines don’t ‘bypass’ the immune system at all. Nor do they ‘trick’ or ‘cheat’ the immune system. Vaccines penetrate through the skin barrier, sneaking past the cells and chemicals that will engulf and destroy it.  But this is exactly what they are designed to do. The pathogens in the vaccine are so weak, if we didn’t assist them across this barrier they would quickly be rendered useless. By injecting weak or dead pathogens through the skin and into the muscle, the vaccine goes straight to the level where specific immune cells are made.  The nearest lymph cells immediately go to work on making antibodies to combat the germ. The memory B cells remember the antigen, and can store and retrieve this memory for a future invasion.

(b) Injections happen naturally. From mosquito bites and wasp stings to rose thorns and animal bites, there are plenty of injections in the natural world.   Foreign invaders can enter through the skin or they can enter via your airways and get into your lungs or gastro-intestinal tract. They can also get in via your urinary tract and infect your bladder and kidneys; or they can be sexually transmitted and infect the body’s reproductive organs. Whichever way germs enter, your immune system can mount an immune response.

Myth 2:  “70–80 % of the body’s immune system is situated in the gut, therefore nature intends for pathogens to enter only this way”.
There wouldn’t be so many immune cells there otherwise, right? They think immunity acquired through the gut must somehow be superior, because the germ or substance must evade a natural filter of sorts, the mucosal barrier, and that this was what the body was designed to do, and it protects the body from ALL harm. This is faulty thinking. Immunity acquired via the gut is not superior.

The immune system of the digestive tract (the gut-associated lymphoid tissue, or GALT) works to protect the body from invasion via the gut. The digestive tract is an important component of the body’s immune system. In fact, the intestine possesses the largest mass of lymphoid tissue in the human body at around 70 to 80%. But there are so many immune cells there because our gastro-intestinal system has an ENORMOUS surface area. The gastro-intestinal mucosa has the continuous task of making, breaking up and absorbing nutrients. We shovel foreign matter into our GI tract several times a day – so it is very active!

The lining of the GIT is the largest surface that faces our external environment, so it needs to have lots of immune cells. The human intestine is 10 times longer than the length of the body, at 17 to 35 feet long. Just like our skin is a barrier to things in the air or on surfaces getting inside us, the mucosal layer of our intestines prevent oral pathogens getting through our digestive tract, and the mucosal layer of our mouth, nose and lungs try to prevent respiratory pathogens getting into us.

But not every infectious agent comes in through our mouths and intestines and the suggestion that we’re only able to fight off infections that do is downright silly. You have immune system locations all over the body which are prepared to combat pathogens. Many of the diseases we vaccinate against enter via the mouth, nose and lungs and do not target the gut. eg. pertussis and measles. Other diseases can enter via the skin eg. chickenpox and tetanus. And the gut mucosa is not a perfect barrier – pathogens get past the gut mucosa all the time. Food poisoning anyone? Norovirus? Gastro? Polio and rotavirus?

Our MALT (mucosa-asociated lymphoid tissue) is the rest of the body’s lymphoid tissue outside of the gut.  And the immune cells that are present in the mucosal surfaces are also present in the skin and muscle. The immune cells of our gut reside in our digestive tract looking for invading germs are the same ones in our respiratory tract (mouth nose and lungs) are the same ones under the skin.  If immunity was only successful because it passed through the mucosal layer first we’d all be dropping like flies from cuts, scratches, rose thorn pricks and animal bites.

The diseases we vaccinate against all possess ‘secret weapons’ to get past our body’s defences. They have tools to deceive or disable our immune cells and make us very, very ill. There is a reason why we vaccinate against these diseases – they can cause us serious harm. Vaccination prepares us for combat.

Myth 3:  Vaccines overstimulate one part of the immune system (Type 2 responses –production of antibodies) and weaken another (Type 1 responses – cell mediated).
This is simply not true. The reality is, vaccines stimulate several different types of immune responses. (it depends on the vaccine). This myth stems from how the immune system was crudely understood well over a decade ago. The old model of the T1/T2 immune system went out the window with the discovery of the follicular helper T cell (Tfh) which is truly the type of T helper cell involved with antibody responses, not Th2 as the very-wrong-and-oh-so-outdated model described by vaccine critics.

It was once thought that Type 1 responses were only of the cell mediated kind [cell mediated responses release cells like phagocytes – the ‘pac man’ cells that eat and destroy foreign invaders, cytotoxic T-lymphocytes – a type of white blood cell that ‘poisons’ the foreign invader and cytokines – which regulate, modulate and act as mediators and promote or suppress inflammation] and Type 2 responses could only produce antibodies.

Vaccine critics therefore proposed that vaccines overstimulate Type 2 responses; therefore Type 1 responses become ‘lazy’. However Th1 and Th2 responses actually overlap and interact with each another. Scientific studies have established that Type 1 responses are not strictly cell mediated and Type 2 does not just stimulate antibodies. Type 1 cells can also stimulate antibodies and Type 2 responses can order other cells around. T1 and T2 actually work together in a dynamic relationship, giving and receiving feedback to one another. They regulate each other’s function and are capable of coordinating a variety of immune responses. Each can elicit both cell responses and antibody responses. It’s an extremely complex area of immunology.

Aside from that, it just doesn’t make sense that vaccinating for a mere fourteen diseases would significantly decrease the immune challenge a person is exposed to. There are literally thousands of infectious pathogens including rhinoviruses, adenoviruses, parainfluenza viruses and bacterial pathogens, many of which you are exposed to on a daily basis, through breathing, eating or cutting your skin, which can exercise your immune system away from any perceived bias.

Myth 4:  (ties in with Myth 3) Vaccines overstimulate one part of the immune system and weaken another, and this is why we are seeing an increase in allergies, asthma and autoimmune diseases.
This myth has no basis and studies actually show that vaccines do not increase the risk for allergic diseases. It is an established fact that children in developing countries are less likely to develop allergies such as eczema and asthma compared with children in developed countries.   And this is very likely because children in the developing world are more likely to be exposed to and challenged by worms and parasites as well as pathogen-producing bacteria and viruses early in life – the very part of our immune system that is not getting much exercise. This is known as the hygiene hypothesis.

The incidence of food allergies in developed countries has also increased. Early exposure to food antigens may be an additional important factor in the prevention of food-borne allergies. Early familiarisation may mean a tolerance and an affinity is developed. It is no longer advised that you delay feeding your baby solid food.   Recent research shows there is no benefit from delaying the introduction of solids longer than 4 months.

There are other reasons why an increase in allergic disease has more to do with the hygiene hypothesis and nothing to do with vaccination, the biggest being that vaccine preventable diseases occur independently of the level of hygiene in the home and sanitation level of the country. Measles, mumps rubella and chicken-pox occurred almost universally in every household, regardless of the country they lived in, before vaccination programmes began to eliminate these diseases.

And so there is the key. Our highly sanitized, first world lifestyles are preventing gut exposure to germs, worms and parasites which exercise our IgE antibody system and prevent allergic disease, and upregulate other parts of our immune system as well which play a role in prevention of auto-immune diseases. Our IgE antibody system is the part that overreacts when a generally harmless, common and non-infectious substance comes along, setting off an allergic reaction. Asthma and allergic reactions result from an overproduction of histamine sparked by an overreaction by the IgE antibody system. The body then produces inflammation, mucus, swelling and sometimes a rash.

So what kind of antibodies are produced with vaccination? And would these be the same type that are made if the exposure occurred naturally?
The immune system responds to an antigen whether exposed in the wild or through ‘artificial’ means – vaccination.  It’s just that different parts of the body specialize in making a particular antibody.  One memory B cell (the cells that remember the vaccine or the infection) can give rise to many antibody producing cells.  Each antibody producing cell will produce antibodies of a particular type  (A, G, E, M or D),  depending on the location in the body. For example most ‘IgM’ (immunoglobulin M) and ‘IgG’ type antibodies are found in the blood circulation.  ‘IgA’ type antibodies are found in mucosal surfaces eg the gut, the lungs, nose and mouth. Depending on the germ and site of the infection, the body will *prefer* to make one antibody type over another.

Vaccines taken orally (like the oral polio vaccine and rotavirus) will induce production of IgA antibodes.  Vaccines injected intramuscularly will induce IgG. Vaccines have been studied and tested to ensure the best route to provide the best immune response with the least side effects. The body is equipped for disease entry or antibody production from vaccines regardless of the route.

The antibodies produced through vaccination may be qualitatively different to those produced through natural exposure, but it doesn’t matter as they are cross protective. For example, if you are exposed to pertussis naturally the pertussis bacteria enters your nose stimulating an IgA antibody response in your mucosal linings and secretions. A pertussis vaccination will stimulate production of IgG antibodies near the surrounding muscle that will circulate in the bloodstream.

Even though the antibody types from natural infection differ to vaccination, it can be enough that there are pre-existing antibodies, even if they’re not of the same isotype that an initial infection would produce. When it comes down to it, vaccine-induced immunity is *always* qualitatively different to that induced by an infection. But that doesn’t change the fact that vaccines are effective. This is proven in the data we see in population level studies.

Another example of cross protection is when the switch was made from oral to injectable polio vaccination. The oral polio vaccine stimulates a good gut IgA response. However it’s live-attenuated and so comes with a very tiny risk of developing paralytic polio. The inactivated polio vaccine is injected and promotes a good circulating IgG response, without the same risk. This circulating IgG means that on exposure, a person will be protected from systemic polio infection, as pretty much the whole circulatory system has some anti-polio antibodies, but that person could still get a gut infection, and pass it on, before developing enough of a local response to clear it from their system, whereas the IgA response from the oral vaccine helps prevent that initial colonisation in the first place.

It should be no surprise that disease pathogens that enter via the skin (tetanus, rabies, chicken pox) can be defended against via vaccines injected into the skin.

As for the increase in autoimmune diseases being due to vaccines, this theory doesn’t make sense either. Indeed, the evidence has rejected the link between vaccines and most autoimmune diseases. Only in a few extremely rare cases has a particular vaccine been implicated in triggering an autoimmune disorder.

Guillain-Barre syndrome was associated with a small increase in risk with a particular 1976-1977 swine flu vaccine. Autoimmune thrombocytopenia has been reported after measles vaccination, but with a much lower frequency than that seen after wild measles virus infection (one in 30 000 vs one in 5000) and the MMR associated condition is self-limiting, recoverable and non-life threatening.
There is nothing to support the theory that vaccines are associated with an increased risk of multiple scelerosis or Type 1 diabetes.

The increase in autoimmune diseases is also highly likely to do with the hygiene hypothesis. The infections thought to play a role in the hygiene hypothesis have nothing to do with vaccination, and include several species of bacteria and a variety of parasitic worms, or helminths.

Vaccines are injected but this does not make them dangerous. They do not overstimulate the immune system, nor do they weaken the immune system. They exercise and prepare the immune system for a specific attack against a specific disease.

There are diseases that infect via your airways (pertussis, diphtheria, measles, influenza, chicken pox) but giving a vaccine into muscle can provide blood antibodies to prevent infection from these respiratory illnesses. There are diseases that infect via the stomach and gut (polio, rotavirus etc) AND so giving a rotavirus vaccine orally makes sense in terms of building protection, but polio protection can be given either orally or injected. Rotavirus vaccination is only effective when given orally.

If you think obtaining ‘natural immunity’ is better,  you are assuming that your child’s immune system is strong enough to fight off the diseases naturally. If that is the case, then it’s strong enough to fight off the tiny amounts of dead or disabled pathogens present in vaccines.

Ingestion vs injection is irrelevant as an objection not to vaccinate. The risks from vaccines are outweighed a million fold by the risks from the diseases we vaccinate against.

Credit: This article was compiled and written by me after nearly two years worth of collaboration and consultation with medical doctors, epidemiologists, microbiologists, virologists, immunologists, biologists and other scientists.

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8 Reasons You Are Wrong About Not Vaccinating

When I recently came across an article listing 8 reasons the author had not vaccinated his daughter, it reminded me of my own search to find good information about vaccines when my first daughter was born. Years later, I fully understand how and why vaccines are safe, effective ways to protect children from many diseases. In this post, I respond to each of the points made in that misinformative article.

To vaccinate or not. That is the question.

Before I had my first daughter I was a vaccine “fence-sitter.” When I first came across pro- or anti-vaccine articles on social media and blogs, I was truly looking for information.

I questioned why the hepatitis B shot had to be given at birth and wondered why there were so many shots on the schedule. I was perplexed why whooping cough is so prevalent even though babies receive several shots in the vaccine series that are supposed to protect against it. I questioned why I still needed to vaccinate for many other diseases that didn’t seem to be around much anymore. I got called a concern troll and was attacked on “pro-vax” pages for admitting I’d used complementary medicine. Then I got called an uneducated “sheeple” and Big Pharma Shill on the “anti-vax” sites. I didn’t seem to fit in anywhere.

I was stunned by the passionate and rapid-fire judgmental comments from both camps and initially retreated from conversation as I became further alienated by both sides.

I realized it was my choice to take it to heart or continue to ask questions and learn. I realized that I couldn’t expect others to automatically know my intentions, so I decided to put on my objective glasses, see beyond the language and emotion and take on board the facts. Here’s what I have learned.

1 A. The risk of adverse events from vaccines are greatly outweighed by the risks of adverse events from the diseases. If you think it’s the other way round, either:

you’ve failed at risk/benefit analysis
• you don’t know what these diseases are capable of, or
• you are getting your information from dubious sources.

Hands down, the risks are greater with not vaccinating. Gaining ‘natural immunity’ means putting your child through unnecessary suffering and risk of a severe or even fatal outcome. You simply cannot obtain specific immunity to vaccine preventable diseases safely through any other method than vaccination. Natural births, exclusive breastfeeding, chiropractic visits and a well-nourished, healthy, outdoorsy lifestyle will not build specific antibodies to the diseases as vaccination can. Healthy, robust children get sick and die from these diseases. Ask any pediatric ICU doctor. We don’t vaccinate for trivial reasons.

For example, chickenpox is often thought of as a mild disease, even a ‘rite of passage’ in childhood, but it can actually be fatal. I’ve had chickenpox myself, and I was fine. The risk of dying from chickenpox is low, but the risk of severe effects from the chickenpox vaccine is magnitudes lower.

As I did, you may wonder why we need to keep vaccinating children against diseases like polio and diphtheria, which are rare in developed countries. It’s because many diseases we vaccinate against are still common in other areas of the world and can easily be spread by travellers. There have been recent outbreaks in developed countries – including the US – of whooping cough, measles, mumps and rubella. Diphtheria and tetanus are rare (thanks to vaccination) but they still occur and when they do, can be deadly or devastating. These diseases still exist, and without vaccines, they could re-emerge. With every disease on the immunization schedule, the risks from the disease outweigh the risks from the vaccine in gargantuan proportions.

1B. Your sources are key. A decision made from Natural News articles and other pseudo-medical blogs will be poorly informed because the science is dubious and the information is cherry picked, misconstrued or downright wrong.

Every health organization of every country around the world is supportive of vaccination. And so is the overwhelming majority of the medical profession. You can trust information from legitimate medical sites and government health agencies because they are evidence-based.

And please don’t claim that “Big Pharma” are behind every study and every decision these organizations make.
Look up research in the PubMed library, where you will find scientific studies from all over the world from independent scientists, universities and other organizations with zero financial interest in pharmaceutical companies. If you exclude the pharmaceutical company-funded studies, the medical and scientific consensus still concludes that vaccinating is the safer choice over not vaccinating.

1C. Vaccine critics may worry about the long-term effects of being injected with multiple vaccines. Do they build up to toxic levels? Do they lead to chronic disorders?

No. Here’s what happens when you’re vaccinated. You get injected with antigens (bits of the original disease that have been inactivated, killed or weakened) that stimulate your body to make specific antibodies (disease-fighting immune cells) to fight this disease. Developing a good level of immunity from a vaccine can take anywhere from a couple of weeks (the flu shot) to a couple of months (DTaP given at 2, 4 and 6 months). Once antibodies are made, the body disposes of the antigens.

Vaccines also contain inactive ingredients (the excipients), such as aluminum salts, formaldehyde and trace antibiotics. These don’t stay in the body long enough to build up and create long-term health effects. They leave your body within days or weeks. The excipients found in vaccines are also found in things we consume or are in our environment. When spaced out over months on the vaccination schedule, the amounts are diminishingly small compared to what we shovel into our mouths several times a day. And please don’t worry that ingestion differs from injection. We’re talking about infintisimally small amounts here and the calculations for safety limits on injected substances are already factored in. The only long-term effect from vaccines is the immunity to the disease our children develop from them.

There is nothing to suggest a “synergistic toxicity” either. The ingredients can’t build up and cause “multiplied” harm because we are talking about tiny, miniscule amounts of ingredients and many of them are inert. And again, they exit the body.

Critics might also point out that “artificial” stimulation of the immune system could lead to chronic disorders such as asthma, allergies, diabetes and autoimmune disease. But there is no evidence of this.

Children who receive vaccines on time do not have different neuropsychological outcomes to those who are unvaccinated or on a delayed schedule.

The incidence of allergies and chronic diseases in vaccinated versus unvaccinated children is the same.

1D. Side effects are real, but extremely rare. There is no evidence to suggest serious side effects are under-reported.

Conversely, there is evidence that serious adverse events are over-reported. Minimal side effects, such as swelling and a sore arm, do tend to be under-reported. Yet, most adverse events tend to be over-reported because of the perception that they are caused by the vaccine when the adverse event’s appearance is really just coincidental timing with the administration of the vaccines. For example, there are adverse reports in the US VAERS database which list motor vehicle accidents, accidental drownings, drug overdoses, suicides and teenage pregnancies as adverse events. Each of those is clearly an unfortunate incident that occurred around the same time as vaccination but could not have been caused by vaccines. Similarly, reports such as ovarian failure, autism and multiple sclerosis are not caused by vaccines because each has been studied and found through the scientific method not to be linked to vaccines. Some people might think they got the flu from the flu shot because it developed later on that same day. But the timing of the incubation period makes that implausible. And so on.

When side effects are reported to VAERS, experts evaluate them and many are found to not be causally related. For example, this study shows only 3% of adverse events reported to VAERS were determined to definitely have been caused by immunization. Further, those 3% and the 40% determined to be “probably” or “possibly” related to a vaccine “were dominated by local reactions, allergic reactions, or symptoms known to be associated with the vaccine administered.” In other words, they were the minor adverse events that we already know about and are provided on VIS sheets.

Severe adverse events from vaccines occur less than 1% of the time. We know this from clinical trials, post marketing surveillance and clinical evaluation or reports.

2. It is very unlikely a vaccinated child will contract the disease. If they are unlucky enough to do so, the disease will, with minimal exceptions, be very mild.

With some vaccines, such as the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), it’s extremely unlikely for a vaccinated person to catch the disease. With pertussis and flu vaccines, it is more likely that a person might catch the disease, but the course of the disease will not be as severe as if the person were unvaccinated. That this can occur has more to do with the kinds of vaccines and the nature of the organisms than vaccine failure.

3. You should not automatically dismiss vaccines because you don’t trust drug companies. Pharmaceutical companies’ vaccine manufacturing processes are heavily regulated and stringently tested. To reject vaccines on the basis that Big Pharma needs to make a profit is folly. All businesses need to make a profit, and yes, Big Pharma is heavily invested in the health sector.

However, profits from vaccines are not huge as with other drugs, such as statins, cholesterol or even Viagra. Yes, Vioxx took a long while to recall, but the system has many checks and balances in place in order to work. And work it did. And few pharmaceutical products have the broad evidence base that vaccines have, both in how long they’ve been studied and in how many different countries, institutions and foundations have studied them.

Vaccines have been around for more than a century. Yes, there may be corruption and greed within big corporations – but why is Pharma any different from any other big company? Do you distrust people who manufacture your baby’s car seats, food and clothing as well because they need to make a profit?

4. In the US, you can sue anybody, including the doctor, the nurse or the drug company, if there has been a breach of protocol. You can also seek compensation through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) if you experience a serious side effect.

In the US, you can seek compensation through a specific program called NVICP if you suspect an adverse reaction from a vaccine. You actually can sue the vaccine manufacturer through the civil court system for liability claims to do with manufacturing defects, such as a vaccine which is improperly made, or for warning defects, such as a vaccine which was incorrectly labeled.

In other countries, you can sue for vaccine injuries through the civil system. The US is lucky to have a specific system in place which actually tries to make it easier on people in the unlikely event they have an adverse reaction.

5. We know enough about the human microbiome to understand that it is implausible to be permanently affected by vaccines; actually the microbiome is probably not affected by vaccines at all.

The microbiota inside the walls of my gut is a separate and unique environment from what is within others’ guts, established from birth and genetic influences. It can be affected by things I consume. Vaccines, which are injected into muscle? Not so much.

The microbiota in my gut form part of my gut immune system, the mucosal immunity which makes IgA antibodies. Vaccines are injected into muscle, stimulating local immune cells to make IgM and IgG antibodies. This is occurring well away from your gut biota.

It is possible that a vaccine taken orally, such as the oral polio vaccine or rotavirus vaccine, may have a temporary effect on gut biota. But there’s no evidence these changes are significant, let alone permanent. Taking antibiotics is something that can change a person’s biota, yet even those courses do not have the power to make permanent, irrevocable changes. Eating a diet consisting primarily of heavily processed and readily absorbed food can adversely affect gut flora.

Research from Stanford University shows that we can develop immunity to microbes we’ve never encountered through exposure to gut pathogens. These findings lend credibility to the ‘hygiene hypothesis’, the idea that exposure to common, everyday germs, bugs and parasites strengthens our immune system. The study is not suggesting that we dismiss vaccines, but it’s suggesting we can make greater use of our oral immune system.

There are ways you can improve your oral immune system and develop a more diverse gut flora without probiotics or going to any great expense:
1. Avoid overuse of antibiotics (use when necessary)
2. Eat fermented foods and a wholesome, unprocessed diet with increased fiber intake
3. Get a pet
4. Relax the sanitary regime in your home by letting your children play in the dirt. Wash your hands when pathogens (eg, after visiting the toilet) or toxic chemicals (eg, after handling herbicides and pesticides) are likely to be present, but maybe not after patting the dog.

Meanwhile, injected vaccines target a completely different part of your immune system.

6. Herd immunity is a real thing. It is understood.

Herd immunity, also called community immunity, occurs when the vaccination of a large proportion of people in a community provides a chain of protection for those who cannot be vaccinated or have not developed immunity. When a certain percentage of the population has been immunized, the cycle of infection is interrupted because large numbers are immune or less susceptible to the disease and there are fewer infectious individuals. This means that any outbreak of the disease will be contained quickly. You can see a pictorial representation of herd immunity here. The CDC have even put out a chart of various herd immunity levels required for each disease (PDF, see Slide 17).

When herd immunity drops below a certain level, it fails. Vaccines aren’t 100% effective, and some aren’t as good as others. The MMR vaccine is around 99% effective at recommended doses. Pertussis vaccine is about 85% effective and flu vaccines range up to about 65% effectiveness. But vaccine effectiveness is all factored into the herd immunity percentages.

When herd immunity drops below the needed level and an infected person enters the population, disease outbreaks occur and can spread rapidly among the unvaccinated. Some who are vaccinated will get the illness as well (again, the vaccines are not 100% effective), but the incidence (the rate of infection, given in a ratio or percentage) in the unvaccinated will be far greater. For example, pertussis occurs at a rate 27 times greater in unvaccinated individuals than in vaccinated ones. Similarly, during the 2013 measles outbreak in the US, 82% were unvaccinated.

(Keep in mind: the number of vaccinated individuals who get sick in a disease outbreak may be higher than the number of unvaccinated individuals, but the percentage of vaccinated individuals who catch the disease will be lower than the percentage of unvaccinated individuals. This occurs because there is typically a far greater number of vaccinated individuals than unvaccinated individuals in a community: a small percentage of a big number (1% of 1 million people is 10,000 people) can be larger than a large percentage of a small number (25% of 1,000 people is 250 people).

Vaccinate first and foremost for your own child. And if those who can vaccinate do vaccinate, you get the bonus of herd immunity.

7. The ingredients in vaccines are not toxic in the tiny amounts they occur.

Some ingredients have scary chemical-sounding names that might concern those who don’t understand toxicology — that the dose makes the poison and it depends on the most harmful ways of exposure. For example, did you know that inhalation of formaldehyde is generally the most unsafe way for it to enter your body?

Aluminum, egg protein, antibiotics, formaldehyde, MSG and ethylmercury derived from thimerosal exist in some (but not all) vaccines in such tiny quantities that even people with allergies to these things do not usually react. (There are individuals with allergies that counter-indicate certain vaccines. These allergies are identified in the Vaccine Information Statements provided with each vaccine.) Whether a vaccine is injected or ingested does not matter when we are talking about such tiny amounts. Injection does not magnify the harm or the toxicity. The body has a way of dealing with substances that enter the skin and muscle just as it has a way of dealing with substances that enter the gut. You will consume far more of these substances in your daily diet.

8. I am a mum. Scientists can sometimes get it wrong. But so many scientists are pretty unlikely to be wrong.

The “tobacco science” analogy – that something once promoted as safe is now a lie – is a poor one. Tobacco is and always was a recreational drug. Vaccines aren’t here to help people have a good time or relax. They have a specific purpose for which they were developed and tested – to prevent diseases. And they work.

The system also works. RotaShield was recalled and examined for reported risks. Drugs are recalled for safety. Whistleblowers exist across all industries. There is also not much room for conspiracy when competitors are scrutinizing your actions. Science is a constant process of fact-checking and re-checking which involves scientists from around the world competing against one another to get the “big scoop.” They’re constantly checking out each other’s claims for accuracy and to see if they can be duplicated. Nothing should be taken at face value. But vaccine effectiveness and safety has been reliably and repeatedly replicated by scientists from all corners of the globe.

There are more shots on the schedule since than when I was a baby, this is true.  But there were considerably more antigens in vaccines back then (see page 7 of this link) and more antigens means more load on the immune system.  Tons more research,  scientific advancement and refinements have taken place since.  The fact that we now have more diseases covered for less load on the immune system should be viewed as a positive thing, not a negative.

less antigens

And this why we vaccinate newborns against Hepatitis B:

Hepatitis B why vaccinate newborns?

 

 

 

 

Gallery

Thanks for nothing, Gianelloni Family.

Your latest blog is crazy full of myths and misunderstandings about vaccines and measles.

1. It’s really not funny to mock a disease outbreak, especially one which is mostly affecting young babies and children.  How do you find humour in a virus that can sicken and disable the body’s defence systems to attack the brain?

Measles can kill quickly or it can kill slowly over many years.  This is why we take it seriously enough to vaccinate against it. Playing it down as if it is some innocent disease of childhood is worshipping the suffering of children. You find that funny, really?

2. The Daily Beast article which you focus on sources this newspaper story.   Your first error is in mocking the description of an outbreak being a mere 3 cases.

Take note:  the newspaper story actually says 3 MORE CASES of measles, not 3 cases.  If there were 5 hospitalizations, you can be damn sure there are many more than 3 cases.

So I looked it up for you.  As of 3 days ago, according to this Slate article there were 19 cases (and probably still counting).

Did you note this line in the article: “Many of the victims are children too young to be vaccinated or whose parents chose not to vaccinate them.”  Do you find that funny too?  

Irrespectively, an outbreak is defined as 3 or more cases linked in time or place.  In this case, if a person infected with measles occupies an area and then leaves, the air and surfaces can harbor the virus for up to 4 more hours, so anyone passing through that area can get infected.  Your unvaccinated child could pass through a shopping mall where an infected person had shopped hours ago, and still catch measles from breathing the air.

It really does only take a few cases to start an avalanche of cases.  90% of people who are not immune to measles will become infected if exposed, so the CDC is completely on point to declare that 3 or more cases is an outbreak.

3. So an outbreak can start out with 3 people, it could grow to be 1000 people.  But one thing is for sure and certain, if the anti-vaccine movement is allowed to grow, a measles outbreak will quickly spread amongst the unvaccinated and has the potential to hospitalize many and even kill some.

Consider the 2013 measles outbreaks in the US:   Out of 159 cases, how many were unvaccinated?  82%.  Plus another 9% had unknown vaccination status (which generally means unvaccinated).

So again we see that word. Unvaccinated. Still finding this funny?

4. By the way, you can’t catch measles from the vaccine.  Recently vaccinated persons are not disease spreading vectors as you assume.

Theoretically, any live virus vaccine can shed, but the MMR vaccine has NEVER been known to cause measles disease in another person.  Did that sink in? You cannot catch measles from the vaccine. So those measles cases which came from the doctors office were spread from a person infected and sick with wild measles.   An infected person or persons had been in the doctors office.  (Remember in 2008, how measles spread from Dr Sears waiting room?)

The idea that those vaccinated with MMR could be spreading measles is a ludicrous lie with no scientific or medical basis whatsoever.   The unvaccinated are actually responsible for outbreaks – indeed almost every outbreak in recent years has been linked to an unvaccinated person bringing in measles from overseas.

5.  So, measles was eliminated from America and many other developed countries but is now making a comeback thanks to mostly unvaccinated travellers who return and spread it largely amongst the unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.  The most important cause of measles resurgence is low vaccination coverage.  So again, whose kids are more at risk?  Not only your unvaccinated kid but the kid next door with leukaemia who can’t be vaccinated.  This is getting funnier and funnier, really isn’t it?

6.  “Funny how we just can’t seem to eliminate measles within the United States”.   But yet they were eliminated, in fact they still are.  When the CDC says “eliminated”, they mean from endemic transmission.  Endemic meaning, regularly found in a certain area; native or restricted to that certain place.  Endemic transmission still no longer occurs – transmission is because of imported cases.   So what you are finding funny, is that measles is back thanks to unvaccinated people bringing it into the country from overseas.

Yes,  one booster was added to the vaccination schedule – thanks to continual monitoring, via those important things you mentioned:  Research. Statistics. Science. Logic.  It was determined that an additional booster was needed to ensure immunity was longer lasting.  So what’s the big deal?  You actually find science, research, statistics and logic funny too?  The irony of your whole argument is that the MMR is one of the most effective vaccines in terms of duration of immunity.

Vaccine immunity duration

7.  Measles can be deadly serious and Gianelloni Family wants to compare it to the common cold.  Her quote from Dr Mendelsohn explaining an adjusted rate of measles complications for developed nations has no basis.  In fact it cannot be found anywhere other than whale.to.  Groan.  It needs to be said that Mendelsohn is widely regarded as a renegade quack.  So who are you going to put faith in – one renegade doctor’s stab-in-the-dark made up statistics; or the CDC, the WHO and every other major health body around the world who actually do public health surveillance and can verify their statistics?

Here are the real statistics:  30% of persons who catch measles will have severe complications.  1-2 out of 1000 will die.  The risk of encephalitis from measles is 1 in 1000. Anywhere from 4 to 18 people out of 100 000 will get the fatal disease SSPE many years after infection.  This is in DEVELOPED nations.  

8.  Gianelloni Family states that “1 in 50 kids with autism suffer from inflammation of the brain and the MMR vaccine package insert for the measles vaccine actually lists inflammation of the brain as a side effect from the vaccine. Go read the package insert. It’s called encephalitis. Caused by the measles vaccine. Not caused by the natural measles virus.”

It is beyond ridiculous that she claims encephalitis is not caused by the natural measles virus when it is a well-known and established consequence of the disease. She also tries to muddy MMR vaccine, inflammation and autism. Firstly, autism is not encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).   Secondly,  MMR vaccine does not cause autism.

Encephalitis has been reported approximately once for every 3 million doses of MMR vaccine.  In no case has it been shown conclusively that encephalitis was caused by a vaccine virus infection of the central nervous system. And to re-iterate, encephalitis is not autism.  Also,  the vaccine protects against SSPE, it cannot cause it.  Go re-read the package insert.  It does not say anywhere on there that the measles vaccine causes autism.  Perpetuating this myth is really funny to you as well, I guess?

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Seeking literal meaning through the package insert is an exercise fraught with inevitable misinterpretation.  This article clearly explains the myths surrounding package inserts.

And, there are over 100 scientific papers indexed on PubMed that thoroughly debunk the vaccines-autism myth.

9. According to the CDC around 1 -2 deaths will occur for every 1000 cases of measles in the developed world.

This quote is pure fabrication:  “Data shows that one-third to one-half of the millions of deaths in children across the world, caused by measles, are due to undernutrition, not undervaccination”

It cannot be found anywhere apart from the Gianelloni family’s own blog.  Now, I bet she finds making stuff up funny too.  But I don’t.  When it comes to children’s lives,  I find twisted quotes to be drop dead serious.

So I took the liberty of finding the real quote which she butchered and made it sound like something else entirely:

“Pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria, measles, HIV/AIDS and malnutrition are the primary killers of children in the developing world.  Measles, killed over 500,000 children in 2003, more than any other vaccine-preventable disease. The measles death toll in Africa is so high – every minute one child dies – that many mothers don’t give children real names until they have survived the disease. Measles weakens the immune system and renders children very susceptible to fatal complications from diarrhoea, pneumonia and malnutrition”

So, the upshot of that is, measles is deadly and so are complications of measles.   Measles leads to complications. Malnutrition does not lead to contracting measles.  If there is no measles around, there are no complications of measles to die from.  Let’s take a look at how funny those measles deaths in developing countries really are:

“Immunization activities have had a major impact on reducing measles deaths. Since 2000, more than one billion children in high risk countries were vaccinated against the disease through mass vaccination campaigns ― about 145 million of them in 2012. Global measles deaths have decreased by 78% from an estimated 562 400 to 122 000”.

Laugh out loud funny, isn’t it,  Gianelloni Family?

10.  Gianelloni Family thinks that Big Pharma has created the anti-vaccine movement.  Interesting.  The public health cost of measles is actually far greater than the vaccine cost.  So how exactly is Big Pharma profiting from prevention?  Funny, much?

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11.  How are unvaccinated children a threat, she asks?  Dr Larry Palevsky – who believes that getting sick is a good thing because those oh-so-helpful viruses and bacteria are assisting you with a ‘toxin purging opportunity’ –  is another quack.  But she will keep finding the lone wolf doctor with a crazy view, as if that’s the view of every expert on the planet.  Doctors who don’t believe in vaccination are in the extreme minority.

Here is why unvaccinated children are a threat:

Why is MY unvaccinated kid a threat?

Gianelloni Family deeply misunderstands (or misrepresents) community immunity (or herd immunity), a scientific principle accepted by virtually every scientist on the planet.  Any parent who honestly wants to understand the issue of why they may be endangering others by not vaccinating should read the book “Deadly Choices”.  Review of it here.   It goes into great detail about how when vaccination rates drop, rates of disease goes up.  Immunity from  measles vaccine, if given according to the vaccination schedule, lasts well into adulthood.  If everyone who CAN vaccinate DOES vaccinate,  that’s enough to ensure lifelong immunity.

12.  Dear Pharma, she says: “You created an entire generation of sick children.”  Erm, how?  Citation, please? For all of the erroneous claims that vaccines cause x, y, or z problem (SIDS, allergies, autoimmune diseases like MS or type 1 diabetes, autism, etc.) there have been many major studies conducted which found  no association with vaccines. This is one of the most common lies of the anti-vax movement – that somehow we are causing an epidemic of chronic illness because of vaccines.   Really, nothing else in our lives has changed apart from the vaccination schedule?  Every large well-designed study has found that there is no increased incidence of autism, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, or allergies because of vaccination. 

Dear Gianelloni Family.  Wake up.  Wake the hell up and stop making excuses for why you are sheltering under the protection of herd immunity.  You’re not fooling anyone.   You are not an expert in infectious disease, epidemiology, immunology, virology, or any of the other myriad disciplines that come together to forge the basis of the science of vaccination. To accept your erroneous claims against the weight of hundreds of thousands of experts in these fields who have produced study upon study, does indeed put everyone at great risk, including your own children.