Research Scientist

Vaccines- What You Should Know


Of all the decisions parents make regarding their children's health, almost none is more consequential - or stressful - than the question of vaccines. 
There is much information to consider, together with your health care provider, when deciding to vaccinate your child. Have you established a good line of communication with your pediatrician, and expressed any concerns? Most important: have you done your research? According to the CDC, a child born today can be protected against 17 diseases and conditions, versus nine for a child born in 1995. The increase in the number of vaccines means safe vaccines are more important than ever.The CDC's recommended schedule is currently 74 doses of 53 injected vaccines and 3 oral vaccines.  Parents are their children's first line of defense, and knowledge is power.

To view the vaccine schedule for children from birth through age 18, click here. There are many ingredients to be aware of, including:

  • The potential health effects of human exposure to mercury, which still exists in trace amounts in some childhood vaccines (as the ingredient thimerosal) include cognitive difficulties, memory and vision loss, coordination issues, tremors, skin rashes and mood instability, as shown in a collection of 55 research studies compiled by the Children's Health Defense.
  • There are still some flu shots and several other vaccines not on the CDC’s routine immunization schedule which contain 25 mcg of thimerosal in the adult dose and half of that in the children’s dose. 
  • Other vaccine ingredients parents need to be aware of include aluminum (a neurotoxicant), formaldehyde and polysorbate 80 (carcinogens), glyphosate, recombinant human DNA from aborted fetal cell lines, chicken and bovine ingredients. 
  • 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.
  • In addition, vaccines may contain very small amounts of the culture material used to grow the virus or bacteria used in the vaccine, such as chicken egg protein.
  • Other substances found in some vaccines include: antibiotics, formaldehyde, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and 2-phenoxy-ethanol.

To learn more about vaccine considerations and view informational links, please see the resources below.


Tips to Consider:

1. Discuss with your doctor which vaccines are necessary for your child.  Know the disease and vaccine risks for your child. You have the right to make an informed choice. After all, one size doesn't fit all.

2. Know the disease and vaccine risks for your child. Ensure you have full information about the vaccine’s side effects and ingredients, which are listed on the vaccine’s package insert (click here for list of vaccine ingredients – commonly listed under #11 “Description” - and click here for list of vaccine excipients).  

3. Avoid immunizing when your child is sick or recently recovered from an illness

4. If your child had a bad reaction to a vaccination before or has a family history of neurological disorders, severe allergies or immune issues, consider future vaccines with this in mind. For vaccines your child receives, keep a record, including the vaccine manufacture’s name and lot number.

5. 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.

6. For vaccine information statements (VIS) from the CDC, see

7. Know your state vaccine codes and exemption procedures.

8. 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.

9. Know how to identify and report a vaccine reaction. Adverse vaccine reactions are more common than many   parents realize. If your child has a possible reaction, notify your child’s doctor immediately so he or she can document it and advise any next steps. Potential adverse reactions include the following:

  • 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 Resources:


Last updated   06/20/19

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