Aluminum in Vaccines: Why Is It So Controversial?

Aluminum is present in a variety of products you and I use every day, including skin-care products, antiperspirants, pharmaceuticals, and even water. Aluminum compounds are used in many vaccines, including the Hepatitis A and B vaccines, DTP and DtaP vaccines, and the HPV vaccines, to increase our body’s immune response to the disease.

You would think that such a widely used compound would have been heavily tested and found to be safe for human use. You would be wrong.

Aluminum is acknowledged to be a toxic substance that has been associated with neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s, as well as autism and multiple sclerosis.

Aluminum Toxicity

Mice injected with aluminum hydroxide, one of the compounds used as a vaccine adjuvant, had impaired motor skills and decreased motor capacity. They also tested positive for hyper-phosphorylated tau protein, which is a hallmark of neurological diseases including Alzheimer’s. Another study found that animals which regularly consumed aluminum showed impaired performance in learning and memory tasks, impaired concentration, and behavioral changes that included repetitive behaviors and confusion. Yet another study found that rats who were fed regular amounts of aluminum exhibited neurological symptoms characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease. Meanwhile, a recently described syndrome called macrophagic myofasciitis (MMF) has been specifically linked to aluminum adjuvants in Hepatitis A and B and Tetanus vaccines. As the article put it, “MMF patients were found to suffer from diffuse arthromyalgias, chronic fatigue, muscle weakness and in some cases, multiple sclerosis,” with analysis showing that the appearance of MMF lesions was due to the persistence of aluminum adjuvants at the site of injections. Aluminum was shown to remain at that site for up to eight years after vaccination, triggering constant ongoing local immune reactions that lead to the disease.

As the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry found in its latest report, aluminum targets the central nervous system. In fact, experiments have suggested that aluminum on its own might act as an antigen – that is, as something that attacks the body, rather than helping fight off disease, meaning that vaccines that contain aluminum may actually make people more vulnerable to later exposure to aluminum.

As I wrote earlier this week, aluminum compounds are used in vaccines as adjuvants that increase the body’s immune response to the disease. They do this via the humoral immune system (Th2) which is located in the bone marrow. This bypasses the Th1 cytokines, which mediates cellular immunity. Autistic children tend to have decreased production of Th1 cytokines, as do MMF patients, and those with Gulf War Syndrome, all of whom share similar neurological issues that may be traced to aluminum adjuvants in vaccines.

Part of the reason aluminum has such a devastating impact on the brain is that it activates inflammatory responses in the brain through a variety of mechanisms, such as the activation of microglia. The permanent activation of these responses has long been recognized as a factor in many neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, autism, and multiple sclerosis.

Aluminum In Vaccines

As yet, no adequate clinical studies have been conducted into the safety of adjuvants such as aluminum and mercury. Both these elements are established to be neurotoxins, and since they affect many of the same biochemical processes, it is possible that they may react together to have an even stronger impact. Unfortunately, this potential has also not been explored.

In fact, adjuvant safety is often not examined in vaccine clinical trials – many such trials use a placebo that contains aluminum, and so, obviously, report a comparable rate of adverse reactions to both.

The lack of study on aluminum adjuvants is particularly problematic as aluminum from vaccines may be absorbed much more efficiently than that taken orally. Only 0.25% of dietary aluminum is absorbed by our bodies, as opposed to potentially 100% of aluminum from vaccines.

Young Children Are More Vulnerable To Aluminum

By far the most worrying aspect of aluminum adjuvants is their impact upon young children. Children receive the most vaccinations in their first two years of life, when they are at their most vulnerable, and the affect on their developing bodies of a neurotoxic substance like aluminum is not known. What we do know is that a developing blood-brain barrier is more permeable to toxic substances than an adult, and infants undergo critical periods of neurodevelopment in their first few years of life. Taken together, this means that infants may suffer damage to their central nervous system by aluminum adjuvants that does not become obvious until much later.

In addition to potentially affecting children’s neurological development, aluminum adjuvants may also result in an underdeveloped immune system. As mentioned above, aluminum adjuvants stimulate the Th2 humoral immune system at the expense of the Th1 cellular immune system. Infants need their immune system to be challenged in order to bring it to full capacity, and vaccines that stimulate the infant’s Th2 system while bypassing the Th1 system lead to the child having a Th1 immune system that has been unchallenged during a critical period of development. The Th1 immune system is much more efficient than the Th2 system, but it may be left permanently stunted due to aluminum adjuvants. This raises serious questions about the effectiveness of the vaccines that use these adjuvants – if they are harming the body’s ability to fight off viruses, isn’t that counterproductive to their purpose?

Not only this, but research indicates that increased Th2 immunity may be responsible for chronic autoimmune, inflammatory, and allergic diseases and may make our bodies more vulnerable to acute respiratory infections as well as enhancing disease progression in HIV positive individuals.

All this said, it is not surprising that, since the dramatic increase in the number of recommended doses of vaccines prior to entering school (from 10 in the late 1970s to 49 in 2010, 18 of which contain aluminum adjuvants), the prevalence of neurological disorders in children living in developed countries has increased by 2000-3000%.

Finally, another study showed a 13-fold increase the infant death following the introduction of hexavalent vaccines into immunization practice. There is no conclusive proof that these deaths were directly caused by vaccination, but the neuropathalogical findings of the study are consistent with the neurotoxic properties of aluminum adjuvants.

To Vaccinate, or not to Vaccinate?

As a parent, it can be difficult to decide what to do after reading all this information. Every parent must weigh this information for themselves before deciding on a vaccination schedule for their child. One tool that may help is the Vaccine Ingredient Calculator, available at the website of the National Vaccine Information Center. There, you can look up the different brands of vaccines and pick the ones that seem to have the least amount of toxic ingredients. And if you decide not to vaccinate, the website has a breakdown of state laws regarding vaccine exemptions.


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