of doses of vaccines are administered to
children in this country each year. Ensuring
that those vaccines are potent, sterile,
and safe requires the addition of minute
amounts of chemical additives.
are added to vaccines to inactivate a virus
or bacteria and stabilize the vaccine,
helping to preserve the vaccine and prevent
it from losing its potency over time.
amount of chemical additives found in vaccines
is very small and may not be enough to
cause a serious allergic response.
July 1999, the Federal government asked
vaccine manufacturers to work towards eliminating
or reducing the use of thimerosal, a preservative
which contains small amounts of mercury,
in any products currently available on
the market. Today, all routinely
recommended pediatric vaccines manufactured
for the U.S. market contain no thimerosal
or only trace amounts.
used in the production of vaccines may include
fluid (e.g. sterile water, saline, or fluids
and stabilizers to help the vaccine remain
unchanged (e.g. albumin, phenols, and glycine);
or enhancers that help the vaccine improve
substances found in vaccines include:
gels or salts of aluminum which are added
as adjuvants to help the vaccine stimulate
production of antibodies to fight off diseases
and aid other substances in their action.
In vaccines, adjuvants may be added to help
promote an earlier response, more potent
response, or more persistent immune response
which are added to vaccines to prevent the
growth of germs (bacteria) in vaccine cultures.
protein which is found in vaccines prepared
using chick embryos. Ordinarily, persons
who are able to eat eggs or egg products
safely can receive these vaccines.
which is used to inactivate bacterial products
for toxoid vaccines. It is also used to kill
unwanted viruses and bacteria that might
be found in cultures used to produce vaccines.
glutamate (MSG) and
2-phenoxy-ethanol which are used as stabilizers
in a few vaccines to help the vaccine remain
unchanged even in the presence of forces
such as heat, light, acidity, humidity etc.
MSG is also found in many foods, especially
Asian foods and flavor enhancers.
which is a preservative that might be added
to prevent the vaccine from spoiling. Thimerosal
is also found in some contact lens solutions
and throat sprays.
children with a prior history of allergic reactions
to any of these substances in vaccines, parents
should consult their child’s health care
provider before vaccination.
find out what chemical additives are in specific
vaccines, ask your health care provider or
pharmacist for a copy of the vaccine package
insert, which lists all ingredients in the
vaccine and discusses any known adverse reactions.
assure the safety of vaccines, the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the
National Institutes of Health (NIH), and
other Federal agencies routinely monitor
and conduct research to examine any new evidence
that would suggest possible problems with
the safety of vaccines. To keep abreast of
the latest information, continue to reference
report a health problem that followed vaccination
you or your provider should call the Vaccine
Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) at
page last modified on June 26, 2006
on this page last reviewed on December