Recently there has been much furor over the national effort to vaccinate the population against the H1N1 (swine flue) virus. There has been criticism over the availability of vaccines, but also some debate over the safety of this particular vaccine and other vaccinations in general. To fully understand all potential implications of vaccines, it is helpful to cast a look at vaccine ingredients.
The most controversial ingredient is the preservative thimerasol, which is ethyl mercury. Depending on the manufacturer, the H1N1 vaccine contains from 1 to 25 μg mercury. Mercury per se exists in three chemical forms, which are methyl mercury, elemental mercury and other inorganic and organic mercury compounds. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that exposure to methyl mercury in fetuses, infants, and children impairs neurological development. Methyl mercury can be found in contaminated fish. Opponents of vaccinations argue that breastfeeding mothers, as long as they consumed fish, would have unknown levels of mercury in their milk, thus passing it on to their infants. This then could reach potentially harmful levels after exposure to thimerasol containing vaccinations. Some people argue that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) symptoms are similar to mercury over dosage, hence proposing that vaccines could potentially cause autism. Scientists disagree and state that vaccines are not the major cause for a rise in children diagnosed with autism. However, so far there is no 100% clear evidence one way or the other.
On a different note, mercury is not the only controversial ingredient in vaccines. Another preservative is aluminum. Alone, it is not as toxic to neurons (brain cells) as mercury, but in combination with other metals it enhances toxicity. Additionally, one of the H1N1 vaccines contains formaldehyde, a poisonous gas and a potential carcinogen. Last but not least the H1N1 nasal spray contains MSG (monosodium glutamate), a food additive most commonly found in Chinese restaurants. Some people report allergic reactions to this ingredient, like heart palpitations for example.
So what can you do if you feel that you are at risk and need a vaccination? Inform yourself about what kind of vaccine your physician uses. A list of ingredients for each vaccine can be found in the Federal Drug Administration's (FDA) website. You could also make sure that you or your child receives only one vaccine at one time, and not as generally practiced, several at once. There are also alternatives to vaccines, such as getting lots of rest during the cold winter months, eating lots of fruit and vegetables and avoiding hydrogenated fats for example. More information on staying healthy without vaccines can be found here: http://www.healthychild.com/vaccine-choices/what-are-the-alternatives-to-vaccination/