Your Swine Flu Vaccine Neither Vegan Nor Green


This hilarious send-up shows some of the 'extras' you get with your vaccine.

Flu season has officially begun, and this is the week that the H1N1 vaccine starts to pour into clinics and doctors' offices across the county. The U.S. has upped the number of swine flu vaccine shots it has purchased to 250 million, meaning there's a jab available for nearly 5/6th of the population. But in a recent poll, two thirds of parents were holding off or deciding not to vaccinate their children with the H1N1 vaccine because of concerns about the safety of the shot. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Disease, told NPR:

"The H1N1 pandemic flu vaccine is made exactly the same way by the same manufacturers with the same processing, the same materials, as we make seasonal flu vaccine, which has an extraordinarily good safety record."

Let's take a closer look at some of the less savory of those 'same materials' in the H1N1 vaccine.

What's in your H1N1 vaccine?

The Center for Disease Control believes the effects of this year's H1N1 vaccine will in general be similar to those from any seasonal flu shot - sore arm, tiredness, headache, etc. In addition, the CDC and others will be monitoring the effects of the H1N1 vaccine program incredibly closely, especially because of the high number of people -- over 1,000 -- who developed GBS (Guillain-Barré Syndrome) the last time a massive immunization against flu was attempted in the U.S., in 1976.

However, this year's H1N1 vaccine shot (also similar to previous years) has some unsavory additives that many people may not know about, including thimerosol, a preservative that is 49% mercury by weight, and formaldehyde. Vaccines have traditionally had chemical additives, and it can be easily argued that that's a small price to pay, as they may save lots of lives - the World Health Organization estimates 3 million lives are saved annually.

Why is there mercury in the H1N1 vaccine?

Vaccine makers have until relatively recently not had to defend their ingredients. But in light of the storm of controversy over the idea that childhood vaccines may have a (unproven as yet) link to the ever rising incidence of autism among American children (now 1 out of 100 children are diagnosed with an autism 'disorder,' up from 12 of 10,000 in 1995), vaccines have come under more scrutiny. Actress Jenny McCarthy, whose son is autistic, even supported a 'Green Our Vaccines' campaign that began last year to try to get mercury out of vaccines.In fact, the FDA has shown concern over mercury in immunizations, and way back in 1999 recommended mercury be removed from vaccines, according to James Moore in a Huffington Post post. And amazingly, as Moore notes, no one seems to quite know why thimerosal, which has been removed from some childhood vaccines, is still being used in others.In California it is now illegal to administer vaccines with thimerosal to children under three or pregnant women. This means there can be a longer wait for at some clinics for H1N1 vaccines that don't contain thimerosal.No such thing as a vegan H1N1 vaccine
At least four different vaccine makers are approved to sell vaccines to the U.S. at a cost of more than $1 billion of taxpayer money. According to product information at the FDA web site, here's what is in the various companies' shots in addition to the (dead) virus: Novartis' vaccine contains thimerosal, and residual amounts of egg protein, beta propiolactone, and nonylphenol ethoxylate.The Sanofi Pasteur vaccine has thimerosal (in the multi-dose only) as well as formaldehyde, gelatin, egg protein, a detergent agent called polyethylene glycol p-isooctylphenylether, as well as sucrose. Not a vegan vaccine, for sure.CSL's preparation has thimerosal only in its multi-dose vaccine, as well as traces of egg protein, the beta propio-lactone, and sodium taurodeoxycholate.Lastly, the MedImmune vaccine is a nasal spray, rather than an injection, and contains a 'live' instead of a dead virus, as well as monosodium glutamate, porcine gelatin (which may make vegetarians wince), arginine, and sucrose. This preservative-free nasal spray vaccine isn't recommended for kids under two or adults over 65 either, and will mostly be used for health workers' immunizations.At the very least, California's law is an indication that public officials do realize it may not be to the benefit of 'public health' to add even a slight amount of mercury to what may be a disease-avoiding or even possibly a life-saving shot.Note: It also means as a consumer, you may have a choice in requesting a thimerosal-free injection, or the nasal immunization spray, also without thimerosal.Read more about H1N1 vaccine at TreeHugger
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