When we started this series I said that we would begin with the most heinous and disgusting vaccine ingredients and work our way down to those that aren't really that bad. In the first post we saw that the Varicella (Chicken Pox) and Hepatitis A vaccines contain tissue from a little boy that was aborted in the '60s and that the virus in the Rubella vaccine was originally harvested from an aborted baby. In the second post we looked at the bizarre and potentially-harmful human and animal tissues present in several vaccines. This time we'll be looking at an ingredient which, while less horrifying, has the potential to cause the most harm: aluminum.
For some time now, many decades, it has been common practice to mix aluminum in with vaccines. Long story short, it helps them work better. Ordinarily, aluminum is just fine. To quote Dr. Sears' The Vaccine Book yet again: "Normally one wouldn't consider aluminum to be a problem. It's present everywhere in our environment. It's in food, water, air, and soil. It's also a main ingredient in over-the-counter antacids. Aluminum is thought to be harmless when swallowed because it isn't absorbed into the body," (193). But what about when it's injected?
Like any other chemical or mineral, our bodies are only capable of filtering out a certain amount. If our kidneys and liver can't keep up with the levels to which we're being subjected, a toxic concentration can build up and cause serious damage, and even death.
A study in 1997 in The New England Journal of Medicine "sought to prove that aluminum may be harmful to preemie babies. They turned out to be right. The infants who were given IV solutions with aluminum showed impaired neurologic and mental development at eighteen months, compared to the babies who were fed much lower amounts of aluminum," (197).
This study, along with several others, are responsible for making it so that IV medications containing aluminum now bear a label warning doctors to consider how much total aluminum patients are getting and whether it's likely their bodies can handle it. For some reason, though, vaccines are exempt from this precaution.
While the 1997 study dealt only with premature babies, who have limited kidney function and are therefore more susceptible to aluminum toxicity, it does prove that it is possible for aluminum to damage:
"What about larger, full-term babies with healthy kidneys? Using the 5 microgram per kilogram per day criterion from [an FDA study] as a minimum amount we know a healthy baby can handle, a twelve-pound, two month-old baby can safely get at least 30 micrograms of aluminum in one day. A twenty-two pound one-year-old can get at least 50 micrograms safely. Babies with healthy kidneys could probably handle a lot more, but it's usefyl to have a benchmark," (198).
If the American Academy of Pediatrics' Recommended Vaccine Schedule were followed, a 6-month old should receive a total of 1225 micrograms of aluminum if the brands containing the highest concentrations happen to be chosen. An average 6-month old baby boy could way as much as 21 pounds. Compare that to the FDA's benchmark minimum healthy aluminum intake for a baby his size of 48 micrograms and one starts to wonder if there might be a problem here.
Thankfully, most of the risk can be avoided by ignoring the standard vaccine schedule. Dr. Sears presents an alternative schedule in which (assuming brands not containing aluminum are chosen when there is a choice) only one aluminum-containing vaccine is given at a time. The benefits to using Dr. Sears' alternative schedule are really astounding:
It limits the total number of vaccine doses given in one month to two in order to decrease the likelihood of side effects, increase the ease with which a particular vaccine can be shown to have caused a side effect if it does arise, and spread out the baby's exposure to potentially harmful chemicals and ingredients. "It starts out with the most important vaccines, the ones that prevent the diseases that are most threatening to infants," (239) and postpones administering the immunizations infants really don't need, but children do. It gives only one live-virus vaccine at a time "so that a baby's immune system can deal with each disease separately," and so on.
Because our family has opted out of several vaccines for various reasons, we're not faced with quite as many problems as a family attempting to squeeze in every possible vaccine would. Nevertheless, we'll still be following Dr. Sears' alternative schedule.