Do You Know What’s In Your Vaccines?

Do You Know What’s In Your Vaccines?

MercuryStory Highlights
  • There are still trace amounts of the mercury preservative Thimerosal in some inactivated vaccines given from multi-dose vials.
  • There is scientific evidence that both Thimerosal and aluminum adjuvants in vaccines can cause harm.
  • Adventitious agents, such as monkey viruses and pig virus DNA, have contaminated some vaccines using animal tissues for production.

Forget for a moment that government and physician recommended vaccines contain lab altered bacteria and attenuated viruses causing the infections you are trying to avoid contracting. It is important to learn more about the additives and other ingredients in vaccines, including animal DNA and chemicals and heavy metals. In the day and age when many children are suffering with severe food allergies and other kinds of chronic health problems, parents are paying closer attention to what they feed their babies and taking steps to limit toxic exposures. Reading the vaccine manufacturer package insert is an essential part of making an informed vaccination decision for yourself or your child.

The vaccine package insert lists vaccine ingredients like gelatin, egg protein and antibiotics, all of which can cause an allergic reactions in susceptible people. However, there are many more ingredients in vaccines that have not been fully evaluated for their potential adverse effects on human health, particularly when given in combination and repeatedly injected.1 2 The mercury preservative, Thimerosal, and the vaccine adjuvant, aluminum, are two controversial ingredients in vaccines that have been in the news for the past decade.3

Thimerosal, a Mercury Preservative in Vaccines

One of the well-known contentious debates about the safety of vaccine ingredients has focused on the mercury preservative, Thimerosal, and whether it can cause children to develop autism and other developmental disorders. 4 Mercury is a known neurotoxin and Thimerosal is a compound containing 49.6% mercury by weight that metabolizes in the body as ethylmercury. 5

Preservatives, like Thimerosal, are used to prevent bacterial or fungal growth and have been used in inactivated vaccines for more than 70 years. Thimerosal had been used in some vaccines as a preservative since the 1930s and, in the late 1990’s, federal agencies recommended removing or reducing amounts of Thimerosal in vaccines. 6 Even so, there are still significant amounts of Thimerosal remaining in DT and TT vaccines, as well as some inactivated influenza and meningococcal vaccines that are administered to children and adults from multi-dose vials.7

In 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Public Health Service issued a joint statement directing vaccine manufacturers to follow the “first, do no harm” precautionary principle and remove Thimerosal from childhood vaccines, including DTaP, HIB and hepatitis B vaccines, even though health officials insisted there was no evidence that children who had received Thimerosal-containing vaccines  had been harmed.8 9 Today, public health officials continue to maintain there is still no evidence that Thimerosal is toxic which they base on the fact that it contains ethylmercury and not methylmercury, an organic form of mercury that has been proven to be neurotoxic.10 11 12

However, there are studies which have demonstrated that exposures to ethylmercury in Thimerosal may be equally as or more toxic than methylmercury.13 Heath care workers are instructed to dispose unused multi-dose vials of Thimerosal containing vaccines as toxic hazardous waste.14

In January 2013, at a meeting convened by the United Nations Environmental Program, representatives from more than 140 governments agreed that mercury is harmful to human health and voted to secure more environmental hazard controls to minimize mercury exposures caused by air and water pollution and use of mercury-containing products, such as mercury-containing dental amalgams. There was a consensus that mercury should be removed from products, but an exception was made for vaccines and Thimerosal was excluded from the agreement.15

There is scientific evidence that some newborn infants are more vulnerable to being unable to efficiently excrete merthylmercury from their bodies if their mothers consumed fish with high levels of mercury during pregnancy.16 There is also evidence that some infants exposed to Thimerosal containing vaccines are also at risk for accumulating higher levels of mercury in their bodies.17 18 Genetic variations that predispose to autoimmunity may make some more susceptible to being harmed by ethylmercury in Thimerosal.19

While children used to be exposed to as much as 187.5 micrograms (mcg) of Thimerosal through routine vaccination before the age of six months, most children are now exposed to less than 28 mcg in vaccines during their first six months. Depending upon the vaccine manufacturer, trace amounts of Thimerosal can still be found in DTaP, DT, Td, influenza and meningococcal vaccines.20 When a vaccine lists Thimerosal as a concentration of 0.01%, this means there are 50 mcg of thimerosal per 0.5 mL dose and approximately 25 micrograms of mercury per 0.5 mL dose.21

Aluminum Adjuvants in Vaccines

Besides preservatives, vaccine manufacturers have added adjuvants to vaccines for the past century to stimulate a strong immune response and, although only a few vaccine adjuvants have been licensed for use in the U.S., many more are currently being developed.22 Different types of vaccine adjuvants have been associated with serious side effects leading to chronic health problems.23 24

Aluminum is a heavy metal that is neurotoxic and there is evidence that aluminum in vaccines can cause brain and immune system dysfunction25 26 27 and that some people may be genetically more susceptible to being harmed by aluminum adjuvants in vaccines.28 Aluminum is an ingredient in DTaP, pneumococcal, hepatitis B and human papillomavirus (HPV)  vaccines. There has been a lack of testing of the safety of aluminum adjuvants because the FDA views adjuvants as part of the entire vaccine, so they are not tested separately.29 30 31

Other Controversial Vaccine Ingredients

Vaccine manufacturers have long used cell material that comes from the bodies of mammals, including humans, monkeys, cows, pigs, dogs and rodents, as well as birds or insects to make vaccines now in use or to make experimental vaccines.32 There is an inherent risk of contamination with viruses and other microbes (or DNA from those microbes) that can escape detection during the vaccine development, testing, licensing, manufacturing and oversight process.33

The most famous case of adventitious agent contamination of vaccines because animal organ cell tissue was used for production is contamination of early polio vaccines with a monkey virus. Monkey kidney cells were used to produce polio vaccines even after discovery that a monkey virus (SV40) contaminated the seed stocks of inactivated and live virus polio vaccines and that the SV40 virus caused cancer in lab animals. Today, SV40 DNA has been identified in human brain, bone and lung cancers, although public health officials continue to deny that SV40 can cause cancer in humans.34

Another more recent case of adventitious agent contamination was the discovery in 2010 that live attenuated rotavirus vaccines contain DNA from porcine circovirus types 1 and 2 (PCV1 and PCV2).35 Although PCV1 infection is thought to be relatively harmless in pigs, PCV2 is associated with a lethal wasting disease in baby pigs. The presence of potentially infectious porcine circovirus DNA in rotavirus vaccines from the use of an enzyme from the pig pancreas prompted the FDA to ask GlaxoSmithKline and Merck to update labels for their respective Rotarix and RotaTeq vaccines. For now, pig virus DNA is still present in the vaccines and strong evidence that it is safe for infants to swallow pig virus DNA in live rotavirus vaccines is still missing.36

There are a number of other vaccine ingredients that have known and unknown adverse effects on health including formaldehyde, phenooxyethanol, gluteraldehyde, sodium borate, sodium chloride, sodium  acetate, monosodium glutamate (MSG), hydrochloric acid, hydrogen peroxide, lactose, yeast protein, bovine and human serum albumin.37


1 CDC. Vaccine Excipient and Media Summary: Excipients Included in U.S. Vaccines, by Vaccine. (Updated Sept. 2013).
2 Kino Y. Vaccine excipients. Nihon Rinsho 2008; 66(10): 1933-1937.
3 Dorea JG. Exposure to Mercury and Aluminum in Early Life: Developmental Vulnerability as a Modifying Factor in Neurologic and Immunologic Effects. J Environ Res Public Health 2015 Feb; 12(2): 1295–1313.
4 Schettler T. Autism: Do Environmental Factors Play A Role in Causation? Collaborative on Health and the Environment June 2004.
5 Environmental Protection Agency. Organic Mercury. Oct. 29, 2007.
6 Thimerosal in Vaccines Questions and Answers. Vaccines, Blood & Biologics. (Updated Apr. 30, 2009).
7 FDA. Thimerosal in Vaccines: Table 3. Vaccines, Blood & Biologics. (Updated Jun. 18, 2014).
8 CDC. Thimerosal in Vaccines: A Joint Statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Public Health Service. MMWR Jul 9, 1999; 48(26): 563-565.
9 NVIC.   Vaccine Safety Group Endorses Government Action to Eliminate Mercury in Childhood Vaccines and Roll Back Hepatitis B Vaccination for Most Infants. NVIC Press Release July 8, 1999.
10 Grandjean P, Herz KT. Brain development and Methylmercury: Underestimation of Neurotoxicity. MtSinai J Med 2011;  78(1): 107-118.
11 Cooper LZ and Katz SL. Ban on Thimerosal in Draft Treaty on Mercury: Why the AAP’s Position in 2012 Is So Important. Pediatrics 2013; 131:152-3.
12 Aluminum and Vaccine Ingredients: What Do We Know? What Don’t We Know?.
13 Burbacher TM, Shen DD, Liberato  N et al. Comparison of Blood and Brain Mercury Levels in Infant Monkeys Exposed to Methylmercury or Vaccines Containing Thimerosal. Environ Health Perspect 2005; 113 (8): 1015-1021.
14 Pharmecology. Disposal Guidelines for the 2010-2011 Flu Vaccines. Sept. 8, 2010.
15 Minamata Convention Agreed by Nations. United Nations Environment Programme. Jan. 19, 2013.
16 Llop S, EngstromK, Ballester F et al. Polymorphisms in ABC Transporter Genes and Concentrations of Mercury in Newborns – Evidence from Two Mediterranean Birth Cohorts. PLOS One 2014; 9(5).
17 Marques RC, Dorea JG, Forseca MF et al. Hair mercury in breast-fed infants exposed to thimerosal-preserved vaccines. Eur J Pediatr 2007.
18 Se Soto MC, Hitlan RT. Sorting out the spinning of autism: heavy metals and the question of incidence.  Acta Neurobiol Exp 2010; 70: 165-176.
19 Science Daily. Thimerosal, Found in Childhood Vaccines, Can Increase the Risk of Autism-like Damage in Mice. June 9, 2004.
20 Thimerosal in Vaccines: Table 3. Vaccines, Blood & Biologics. (Updated Jun. 20, 2012).
21 Thimerosal in Vaccines Questions and Answers. Vaccines, Blood & Biologics. (Updated Apr. 30, 2009).
22 DeGregorio ED, Caproni E, Ulmer JB. Vaccine Adjuvants: Mode of Action. Front Immunol 2013; 4:214.
23 Cerpa-Cruz S, Paredes-Casillas P, Landeros-Navarro E at al. Adverse events following immunization with vaccine containing adjuvants. Immunol Res 2013; 56(2-3): 299-303.
24 Kellend K. Insight: GSK vaccine ingredient scrutinized for narcolepsy clues. Reuters Feb. 8, 2013.
25 Rivas E, Gomez-Arnalz M, Ricoy JR et al. Macrophagic myofasciitis in childhood: a controversial entity. Pediatr Neurol 2005; 33(5): 350-356.
26 Exley C. Why Industry Propaganda and Political Interference Cannot Disguise the Inevitable Role Played by Human Exposure to Aluminum in Neurodegenerative Diseases, Including Alzheimer’s Disease. Front Neurol 2014; 5: 212.
27 Shaw CA, Seneff S, Kette SD et al. Aluminum-Induced Entropy in Biologic Systems: Implications for Neurological Disease. Journal of Toxicology 2014.
28 Tehune TD, Deth RC. A role for impaired regulatory T-cell function in adverse responses to aluminum adjuvant containing vaccines in genetically susceptible individulas. Vaccine 2014; 32(40): 5149-5155.
29 Mercks’s Gardasil Vaccine Not Proven Safe for Little Girls. Jun. 27, 2006.
30 Aluminum and Vaccine Ingredients: What Do We Know? What Don’t We Know?
31 Common Ingredients in U.S. Licensed Vaccines. Vaccines, Blood & Biologics. (Updated Jul. 7, 2011).
32 Fisher BL. The Emerging Risks of Live Virus and Virus Vectored Vaccines: Vaccine Strain Virus Infection, Shedding and Transmission. 2015.
33 FDA. Guidance for Industry: Characterization and Qualification of Cell Substrates and Other Biological Materials Used in the Production of Viral Vaccines for Infectious Disease Indications. February 2010.
34 Bookchin D, Schumacher J. The Virus and the Vaccine. Atlantic Monthly February 2000.
35 Fisher BL. Vaccine Contamination: Pig Virus DNA Found in Rotarix Vaccine. NVIC Newsletter April 7, 2010.
36 LaVigne P. Dead Pigs Raise Questions About Rotavirus Vaccines. NVIC Newsletter Mar. 26, 2013.
37 CDC. Vaccine Excipient and Media Summary: Excipients Included in U.S. Vaccines, by Vaccine. (Updated September 2013).

12 Responses to "Do You Know What’s In Your Vaccines?"

  1. Num Guy   June 21, 2015 at 11:10 pm

    Sadly, vaccine makers have no incentive to change their ways. They make huge profits but are totally protected from lawsuits because Congress granted them immunity in 1986. We the taxpayers are paying for the damages they are causing. Sound familiar? Privatizing profits while socializing risk!

  2. Don   June 23, 2015 at 9:28 am

    Nice format to your new newsletter!

  3. D Ohsberg   June 23, 2015 at 11:51 am

    Is there a way to share this article on Facebook
    or Twitter. I didn’t see the icons.
    Thank you for doing this brave difficult work.

    • Marco Caceres   June 23, 2015 at 12:14 pm

      Yes, just beneath the title of this article is an orange icon that says “Share”… Click on it and you’ll see both Facebook and Twitter come up.

  4. Kat   June 23, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    Thank you for your courage and your testament to the uncomfortable truth that the masses may not wish to hear. We have spent over a century giving much energy to the vaccine paradigm. It is important to remember that while vaccines may have been altruistically created to circumvent illness and infectious disease, they have become the multi-billion dollar bread and butter of an industry that shirks its responsibilities for poor outcomes more and more. The public must recognize that there can not be a one size fits all answer to infectious disease prevention.

  5. Helen Landau   June 23, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    “Aluminum is a heavy metal that is neurotoxic. . .”

    It is very important to be highly knowledgeable and check and recheck your facts when writing about such controversial topics. And not just because so many people are relying on this information and need to trust its source. But also not to give the vaccine supporters extra reason to attack or to mock us.

    Aluminum is ONE OF THE LIGHTEST metals on the planet. I am sure you have heard that we build airplanes from it. We don’t build airplanes from lead for obvious reasons!

  6. Marene Mayer   June 23, 2015 at 9:51 pm

    I just cannot get – why people don’t understand the Toxic ingredients in these Vaccines. How could any of them benefit anyone – especially small children?? My son almost died in 1976 – when there were a whole lot less vaccines – and God Bless my Pediatrician for telling me “no more for him” and telling me the ingredients. Not giving parents the right to Decide is beyond my comprehension. There are so many natural homeopathics to combat – all of them – from Hooping Cough (which is just a Bacterial infection), etc. People are not being informed about these natural supplements and how to use… boggles my mind. Parents are not taught to just stay home with their children when they get sick………SAD!!!

  7. Mary Battilocchi   June 24, 2015 at 10:54 am

    Aluminum and mercury are extremely toxic to many different systems in the body – including enzymes that help mitochondria to function. We now have an epidemic of Alzheimer’s – the brains of these patients have neurofibrillar tangles that contain aluminum – vaccines are a part of this, not to mention how it can effect the brain in small children. I think that toxicity of heavy metals should be more emphasized before giving vaccines that contain these toxins to children.

  8. Ken Conrad   June 26, 2015 at 4:01 am

    Concern expressed by many over the years, doctors and scientists included, that injecting common ingredients such as foreign proteins and fatty oils caused hypersensitivity, should also be considered when analyzing vaccine ingredients and their potential harmful effect.

    With the growing number of food allergies, schools and day care centers respond by restricting the foods deemed responsible, such as peanut butter and in some cases dairy products. Rarely is it considered consider that vaccine ingredients, such as peanut oil, and dairy products such as lactose, bovine casein and lactalbumins as probable causes. Some of the vaccines that use or contain the above ingredients include BCG, Hib, influenza, Meningococcal, MMR and Polio. When the above food ingredients are injected into an infant’s body bypassing natural censoring mechanisms is it any wonder that allergies and sensitivities are increasing.

  9. Harold W. Faircloth   June 26, 2015 at 5:53 am

    The [Nobel] prize is such an extraordinary honor. It might seem unfair, however, to reward a person for having so much pleasure over the years, asking the maize plant to solve specific problems and then watching its responses. -Barbara McClintock, scientist, Nobel laureate (16 Jun 1902-1992)
    “Ms. McClintock received the Nobel Prize in plant genetics for discovering transposable genetic elements in the maize( Indian Corn) plant. The corn with all the colors. This discovery was a landmark event in genetics of all types. This really is the way of change to organisms, virus’, bacteria, parasites and larger earth forms as well as plants. These transposable genetic elements are called plasmids because they are usually circular snippets of genes that are picked up by one organism, say a virus and released in another, say human. On top of this is the fact that every cell in your body ~ thirteen trillion, is regenerated after seven years including the entire nervous system and brain. It’s a cosmic dance of change forever.”
    “My own motto is becoming: ask the right question ( of Nature) and receive the right answer. The answer is usually an act of observation after having thought deeply about the question.”

  10. MaryAnderson   July 5, 2015 at 9:35 pm

    Thank you for this newsletter. The information is invaluable and the comments are well reasoned, which is refreshing considering the misinformed emotional appeals we get from most medical professionals and the media. I’ve been reading about this issue since before my children were born (all grown and healthy, with no routine vaccinations) Thanks to NVIC, Dr. Robert Mendelsohn, Mothering Magazine, Richard Moskowitz, M. D and many others for their advocacy for good health.


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