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Greening Vaccines

Baby_in_BlanketIn 1983, the CDC vaccination schedule from birth to six years totaled 18 vaccines.Today, it’s about 50 (to view the complete vaccine schedule, click here). There is much information to consider, together with your health care provider, when deciding to vaccinate your child.

The mercury-based preservative thimerosal was removed from routine childhood vaccines on the CDC immunization schedule starting in 1999. However, “trace amounts” do remain in some vaccines. The health effects of human exposure to mercury, including cognitive difficulties, memory and vision loss, coordination issues, tremors, skin rashes and mood instability, is shown in a collection of 55 research studies compiled by the World Mercury Project.


Vaccine Tips to Consider:

  1. Discuss with your doctor which vaccines are necessary for your child.  After all, one size doesn't fit all.
  2. Avoid immunizing when your child is sick or recently recovered from an illness.
  3. Ask about thimerosal before you vaccinate and insist on thimerosal-free vaccines. Thimerosal is 49.6% mercury by weight. Mercury is a known neurotoxin, meaning it is poisonous to nerve tissue. The list of adverse health effects are acknowledged by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and include vision loss, lack of coordinated movements, cognitive difficulties, memory problems, tremors, skin rashes, and mood swings. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) removed thimerosal from vaccines on the CDC childhood immunization schedule starting in 1999, though “trace amounts” do remain in some vaccines. Other vaccines not on the routine immunization schedule, such as the multi-dose flu vaccine, still may contain thimerosal. If you decide to give the flu shot, a thimerosal-free version may need to be special-ordered by your pediatrician.
  4. For vaccine information statements (VIS) from the CDC, see
  5. Discuss with your pediatrician the option of spreading out vaccines. This may require multiple office visits, but giving fewer vaccines per visit (such as one vaccine per month) may reduce any complications from the interaction of multiple vaccines. It will also allow you to know precisely which vaccine caused a problem if there are any adverse reactions. We still don't know the unique vulnerabilities of each individual, which may cause vaccine complications, as research hasn't been done yet to identify biological markers that would indicate a pre-existing condition. 
  6. Ask the doctor to check for titers. Via a simple blood test, the doctor can check to see if your child is already immune to a specific disease via previous exposure or vaccine. If the titer shows your child is immune, further vaccination (boosters) for that specific disease may not be necessary. The only titers that are medically reliable are for MMR, Varicella and Hepatitis B.  The others are not accepted as proof of immunity due to various methodology issues with the blood test reliability.
  7. According to the CDC, additives used in the manufacture of vaccines may include:
    - suspending fluid (e.g. sterile water, saline, or fluids containing protein);
    - preservatives and stabilizers to help the vaccine remain unchanged (e.g. albumin, phenols, and glycine); and
    - adjuvants or enhancers to help the vaccine to be more effective.

Common substances found in vaccines include:

·        Aluminum

·        Antibiotics

·        Egg protein

·        Formaldehyde

·        Monosodium glutamate(MSG)

·        2-phenoxy-ethanol

·        Thimerosal

           Click here for a list of vaccine ingredients, as listed on each vaccine's package insert.

CDC's Chart of Vaccine Excipients


Adverse Vaccine Reactions
Adverse vaccine reactions are more common than many parents realize. If your child has any of the following, notify your child’s doctor immediately so they can document it and advise any next steps. 

  • Fever, a temperature over 102 degrees Fahrenheit (or any lower number that your physician specifies) shortly after, or up to twelve days following vaccination.
  • A high-pitched, persistent and inconsolable cry, indicating pain,that continues longer than 24 hours.
  • Anaphylactic reaction including hives, swelling of the mouth or throat, and labored breathing, which may indicate an egg allergy.
  • Rashes or swelling, including any red rash on the skin or large, swollen bump at the injection site that lasts for several days.
  • Extreme sleepiness, which may include sleeping through feedings or lethargy.
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Sudden behavior changes such as personality, tantrums, sullenness, or irritability that is inconsistent with past behavior.
  • Convulsions
  • Shock
  • Brain inflammation: indicated by blank stares, high-pitched screams, and arching of the back, often followed by seizures.
  • Physical or mental deterioration: such as difficulty talking, walking or crawling.

If you notice any of these, keep dated notes for yourself, as they may prove invaluable later.  Have the doctor (or yourself) obtain information about the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) at 1-800-822-7967 or online at  Always call 911 or take your child to the nearest emergency room if you feel your child may have a life-threatening vaccine reaction. 

Additional Considerations:   

  • Discuss with your doctor whether or not your child has an immune system disorder or dysfunction.  
  • Discuss with your doctor whether or not your child has a mitochondrial disorder or dysfunction, or other evidence of metabolic dysfunction including oxidative stress.
  • The current vaccine schedule should allow for greater flexibility, supported by third-party payor reimbursement for more frequent visits if needed.
  • Health care providers should not have financial incentives to vaccinate according to a universal vaccine schedule which does not allow for individual care to children. Compliance with the universal vaccine schedule should not be considered an indicator of quality of care.
  • Health care providers should not have legal disincentives to providing flexible scheduling based on each child's individual health needs. Standards of care should include flexible scheduling based on documentation of each child's individual needs. 
  • Know your family history, especially if it includes autoimmune problems like diabetes, celiac disease, thyroid disorders or hypothyroid disease, including Hashimoto's Disease.
  • Influenza vaccine: There is a lack of data for safety and efficacy for the flu vaccine in children under two years old. You must ask for single-dose, thimerosal-free flu vaccine as many flu vaccines contain thimerosal.
  • We support legislation to ban thimerosal, other toxins (neurotoxins and carcinogens), and other potentially harmful ingredients from vaccines, such as formaldehyde and aluminum.
  • Medical and religious exemptions are under greater scrutiny by schools. Know your state vaccine codes and exemption procedures. We support conscientious and philosophical exemption legislation.
  • Proper vaccine disposal by individual doctors' offices and hospitals is a multi-tier problem that needs a well-coordinated solution.  Currently, the disposal of expired or unused vaccines creates a potential threat to public health by allowing these potent, chemical-laden vaccines to enter our waste stream, and in some cases, our water supply.

There are several perspectives on aluminum adjuvants in vaccines, including the two below:  

  • The Neural Dynamics Research Group in Vancouver states that “aluminum adjuvants have a potential to induce serious immunological disorders in humans. In particular, aluminum in adjuvant form carries a risk for autoimmunity, long-term brain inflammation and associated neurological complications and may thus have profound and widespread adverse health consequences.”
    Aluminum vaccine adjuvants: are they safe?
  • The US FDA concludes “that episodic exposures to vaccines that contain aluminum adjuvant continue to be extremely low risk to infants and that the benefits of using vaccines containing aluminum adjuvant outweigh any theoretical concerns.”
    Updated aluminum pharmacokinetics following infant exposures through diet and vaccination

CDC table listing vaccines and additives:

For a full list of vacines containing aluminum, thimerosal, formaldehyde and other excipients, please see the Institute for Vaccine Safety at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Help us advocate for greening vaccines by supporting legislation around the country and in your area.  For Federal legislation and quick links to get involved, see Safeminds and Autism Speaks.

Additional Resources:

·  Mercury in the Environment

·  CDC Contraindications to Vaccines

·  AAP Vaccine Safety Information for Parents

·  National Vaccine Information Center

·  CDC's Chart of Vaccine Excipients

·  The Institute for Vaccine Safety at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health


Last updated 2-9-2017

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