Vaccines are complex chemical compounds that contain a variety of ingredients. Each of these ingredients serves a specific purpose, and each carries its own potential risks for vaccine recipients. While all vaccines are generally considered safe, getting vaccinated does carry certain risks, and knowing the ingredients in your vaccines is important to minimizing your chances of an allergic reaction or other negative response to an immunization.
Three Types of Vaccine Ingredients
1. Ingredients Used for Vaccine Production
Vaccines work by introducing disease-causing germs (or parts of these germs) into the body in order to build up the body’s immune response. These germs need to be grown in a laboratory, and this process requires certain ingredients that are necessary to germ production. These ingredients include:
- Cell culture material that help the vaccine germs grow. One of the most common cell culture materials is egg protein.
- Antibiotics that protect the growing germs from contamination with other harmful substances.
- Inactivating chemicals that weaken or kill disease-causing viruses and bacteria.
2. Immunizing Ingredients
Immunizing ingredients are those that make vaccines effective to prevent the potentially dangerous diseases they are designed to protect against. These ingredients fall into two main categories:
- The antigens that build up the body’s immune response; and,
- Adjuvants that enhance vaccine effectiveness.
Antigens are made from the germs grown during the vaccine production process. These antigens can build up immunity by introducing low-risk or no-risk germs into the body. Unlike the germs that actually cause diseases, the germs used to create antigens are weakened or killed copies of the germs that do not present a risk of infection (although, certain patients may be at risk for infection from weakened, or “live-attenuated,” vaccines).
3. Preservatives and Stabilizers
Since vaccines are grown from live cultures, they need to be preserved and stabilized until they are ready to be used. Common preservatives and stabilizers incorporated into vaccines include:
- Gelatins, which help stabilize vaccines during storage and transportation.
- Sugars, which prevent changes in vaccine composition due to shifts in temperature and other changes.
- Thimerosal, which protects against growth of bacteria and fungi.
Allergic Reactions and Other Negative Responses to Vaccine Ingredients
Knowing which ingredients are in a vaccine is particularly important for individuals with certain types of medical conditions. For example, if you are allergic to egg protein or gelatin, you may need to avoid vaccines that contain these ingredients. Likewise, live-attenuated vaccines can present a risk of infection for individuals with weakened immune systems and certain other health conditions.
What should you do if you are concerned about the effects of a vaccine ingredient? The most important thing you can do is to see your doctor promptly. If you have already received an immunization and are experiencing negative side effects, you should seek treatment immediately, and you should find out if you are eligible to recover your medical expenses and other losses through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP).
Learn More about the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP)
If you are eligible for financial compensation under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, vaccine attorney Leah V. Durant can provide legal representation for your VICP claim at little or no financial cost to you. To learn more in a free and confidential consultation, please call (202) 800-1711 or inquire online today.
Leah Durant Bio
Vaccine attorney Leah Durant represents clients in complex vaccine litigation matters. Leah Durant is the owner and principal attorney of the Law Offices of Leah V. Durant, PLLC, a law firm based in Washington, DC. Leah Durant and her team represent clients and their families who suffer from vaccine-related injuries, adverse vaccine reactions and vaccine-related deaths. The Law Offices of Leah V. Durant, PLLC is dedicated to assisting individuals in recovering the highest level of compensation as quickly and efficiently as possible. To learn more, contact vaccine attorney Leah Durant today.