What is in This Vaccine?

You can find a summary of ingredients from official government sources.
The Centers for Disease Control has a ‘Fact Sheet’ on vaccine ingredients (http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/additives.htm). Two links are available on this page for additional information:

For example, if you wanted to know the ingredients (excipients) of the MMR vaccine, they would look at the Vaccine ingredients sorted by vaccine PDF. Below is a  buffet of ingredients the parent would discover in the MMR vaccine, and that’s just the beginning.

Amino Acid, Bovine Albumin or Serum, Chick Embryo Fibroblasts, Human Serum Albumin, Gelatin, Glutamate, Neomycin, Phosphate Buffers, Sorbitol, Sucrose, Vitamins


the CDC links are a good starting point, but parents often require more information.

The information parents need is located on what is called the vaccine insert.
Sticking with the MMR vaccine example, the vaccine insert for the MMR-II vaccine can be found online. (http://www.merck.com/product/usa…) (pdf)

Reading the vaccine insert reveals not only the ingredients, but also the fact the vaccine has not been tested for carcinogenesis (cancer causing), mutagenesis (DNA changing) or impairment of fertility.

You should also be interested in the “ADVERSE REACTIONS” and “CONTRA-INDICATIONS” sections of the document.
A contra-indication is a condition or factor that serves as a reason to withhold a certain medical treatment. Many pediatricians do not test for contraindications prior to vaccinating babies.

Resources like the Merck Manual (http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/index.html) can help decipher some of the medical code.

What Are These Ingredients Anyway?

Each chemical in the vaccine has a “social security number”. The specific name for the chemical number is called a CAS (Chemical Abstracts Service) number. Humbolt State University Library describes CAS numbers like this,

Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) has a registry system for all completely identified chemical compounds or substances. There are over 113 million chemical substances & sequences currently registered …
Each individual chemical substance is assigned a CAS Registry Number which may be thought of as that substance’s “Social Security number.”

Once a parent has the CAS number for a chemical in the vaccine, they can look up the chemical with precision. Where would the CAS number be useful? Parents could type in the CAS number or the chemical name on a number of helpful sites.

  • Pubchem (http://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/)
    Free database of chemical structures of small organic molecules and information on their biological activities
  • TOXNET (http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/)
    Databases on toxicology, hazardous chemicals, environmental health, and toxic releases.
  • MSDS (http://www.msds.com/)
    Access to the widest selection of material safety data sheets (“MSDS”) to a large group of people.

Side Effects

  1. Christopher A. Shaw, Ph.D, Professor, Vaccine Safety Conference Session 17