Vaccination FAQs

You have questions. Can vaccines cause autism? Do they contain dangerous chemicals? Are vaccines safe?

Here are answers to some of the myths about immunizations:

  • My child is healthy. Why should he/she be immunized?
    Vaccinations are intended to help keep healthy kids healthy. Vaccines work by protecting the body before disease strikes. If you wait until your child gets sick, it will be too late for the vaccine to work.
  • Should my child get the flu shot?
    The CDC recommends that kids 6 months and older get a flu shot every year. There is also a nasal spray flu vaccine that provides the same positive benefits.
  • Does the rubella, or MMR vaccine cause autism?
    No. Many studies have found no link between vaccines and autism. The increased rates of autism in both vaccinated and unvaccinated children is linked to the broader definition of autism and the greater awareness of this condition among health professionals.
  • Do other immunizations cause autism?
    No. There are no known links establishing a connection between a child receiving a vaccine and a child developing autism.
  • Do vaccines contain aluminum?
    Aluminum is used as an adjuvant which is something added to a vaccine to encourage the body to produce more antibodies and longer-lasting immunity. This ingredient minimizes the amount of antigen (the substance that evokes an immune response) needed in the vaccine. Because it makes the immune response stronger, fewer doses of the vaccine are needed. Aluminum is naturally found in water, food, and even breast milk. An infant will ingest around 7mg of aluminum from breast milk in the first six months of life. The vaccine schedule in that same time period contains about 4.4mg of aluminum. The amount of aluminum in vaccines is so small that there is no detectable rise in naturally occurring aluminum levels found in infants’ bloodstream immediately after vaccination.
  • Do vaccines contain mercury and/or thimerosal?
    There is no mercury in vaccines. There is an ingredient called Ethylmercury which is actually thimerosal, and it’s used as a preservative and is important for preventing dangerous bacterial or fungal contamination of vaccines. It’s only found in certain influenza vaccines for adults, but not in any vaccines given to children.
  • Do vaccines contain formaldehyde?
    Yes, but the amount is very small. Formaldehyde is always present in the human body and is an important part of our metabolic process. In fact, about 1.1 mg is naturally present in every two-year-old’s body. The amount of formaldehyde in a vaccine is never more that 0.02 mg per dose, making it up to 70 times less than what’s naturally present. This substance also naturally occurs in pears, apples, green onions, potatoes, fish, and beef. An average sized pear contains about 12mg of formaldehyde.
  • Do vaccines contain baby parts or cells?
  • Can my child get the disease from the vaccine?
    It is not possible to get the disease from any vaccine made with dead (killed) bacteria or viruses, or even just a part of the bacteria or virus. Only those immunizations made from weakened virus (such as the rubella or MMR vaccine) could possibly make a child develop a mild form of the disease. In this case, it is almost always less severe than if a child got the disease-causing virus itself.
  • Is it harmful to my child to receive all the recommended vaccines at one time?
    Scientific data shows that getting many vaccines at the same time does not cause any chronic health problems. Children should be given their vaccines as soon as possible to give them protection during the vulnerable early months of their lives. Also, following the vaccine schedule means fewer office visits and less trauma for your little one.
  • Why are there more vaccines given than ever before?
    Progress. Medical research has enabled us to develop new vaccines to protect against other dangerous diseases.
  • Is it harmful to my child if I decline some of the immunizations?
    Opting out of certain shots for your children puts them at risk of developing those diseases. Some vaccine-preventable diseases remain common in the United States and children may be exposed to these diseases at any time.
  • What are the risks to my child if I follow an alternative immunization schedule so that he/she doesn’t receive all the shots at once?
    The recommended schedule protects infants and children by providing immunity early in life, before they come into contact with life-threatening diseases. Children receive immunization early because they are susceptible to diseases at a young age largely because their immune systems aren’t fully developed. The consequences of these diseases can be very serious, even life-threatening, especially for younger children including babies. That’s why it’s important to vaccinate before your child is around or gets the disease.