Too Many, Too Soon?

Some parents express concern that we are giving our children too many vaccines too soon, or too early in life. Critics point to the number of vaccines in 1983 versus the number administered to children today as evidence that these vaccines are overburdening children’s immune systems. This is completely inaccurate.

Advances in science have resulted in children actually receiving fewer antigens (bits of the vaccine) in their vaccines than they did historically. Overall, the number of antigens in vaccines have fallen from over 3,000 in 1980 to approximately 153 today. Even so, when you compare the amounts to the trillions of bacteria that infants are exposed to (and form an immune response against) from the moment they are born, you see that babies’ immune systems are well-equipped to handle not only those bacteria but many more external threats.

The first thing that you have to consider in any discussion about so called toxins in vaccines is that everyday compounds can be either beneficial or toxic depending on the quantity used. For example, let's consider water. No one would deny that it is important to drink plenty of water to remain healthy. But did you know that drinking too much water can kill you? While normal, healthy people have little to worry about, we still occasionally read stories about people actually dying from excess water consumption.

A second mistake that people make when looking at ingredients in vaccines is that the whole doesn't always equal the sum of its parts. A simple example of this theory can be found in the example of everyday table salt. Table salt is made of two very dangerous elements, chlorine and sodium. Chlorine is a dangerous gas; sodium is a highly reactive element that explodes when it comes into contact with water. Yet if you combine these two dangerous elements you get a very safe compound, simple table salt.

So before you classify a component as a 'toxin,' you must consider more than whether or not it is simply "in there." You have to look at the quantity, how it is used, whether it is combined with some other element, whether it is used as part of the production and then stripped back out, and many other factors.

Additional Resources
Childhood Immunization Schedule and Safety: Stakeholder Concerns, Scientific Evidence, and Future Studies” – Institute of Medicine, Consensus Report (January 16, 2013)

"Addressing Parents' Concerns: Do Multiple Vaccines Overwhelm or Weaken the Infant's Immune System?" – Pediatrics, Offit, Paul A., Quarles, Jessica, et al. (2002; 109; 124-129)

"Cellular Immune Responses in Neonates" – International Reviews of Immunology, Fadel S, Sarazotti M. (2000;19:173-193)

"Neonatal and Early Life Vaccinology" – Vaccine, Siegrist CA. (2001;10: 3331-3346)

Additional Resources


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