What’s in Vaccines?

Like many of the foods you buy, vaccines have an ingredient list. Most of the names aren’t necessarily anything you would instantly recognize but together these ingredients fuse together to form a disease-fighting solution.

Each ingredient included in a vaccination formula serves a specific purpose. Just as certain spices add flavor to a food item, these ingredients add power and efficacy, meaning they make the vaccines work for your child.

Some specific ingredients used in vaccines include:

  • Preservatives such as Thimerosal (used in flu vaccines): used to prevent contamination and is also found in certain kind of fish.
  • Adjuvants such as aluminum salts: used to help the body respond to a particular vaccine and is also in drinking water, baby formula, and even in some buffered aspirins.
  • Stabilizers such as sugars or gelatins: use to continue the vaccine’s effectiveness after it was manufactured. It can also be found in Jell-O®, and it actually naturally present in the body.
  • Egg protein: used to grow the molecules of virus that are used in vaccinations and is also present in the eggs you scramble in the morning. There are vaccines that do not include egg protein and can be administered to people who are known to be allergic to eggs.
  • Formaldehyde: a preservative used to kill inactive aspects while the vaccine is being made. It occurs naturally in fruits like pears and apples. Formaldehyde can have a bad reputation, but the amount used in vaccines is so small, compared to what’s naturally present in your body, that it virtually poses no problem.
  • Antibiotics like Neomycin: used to fight contamination. It’s used in place of an antibiotic such as penicillin.

Learn more about vaccine ingredients: