Aluminum is an ingredient that is present in vaccines in relatively high concentrations. Dr. Robert Sears has written extensively about his concerns regarding the amount of aluminum in vaccines, and we credit him for drawing many people’s attention to this matter.
Aluminum is used as an adjuvant in several vaccines, which means that it is present in the vaccines to make the vaccine more effective. The aluminum also seems to make the vaccines more reactive, meaning it causes more side effects. For example, one HPV vaccine study compared a saline placebo with an aluminum-containing placebo with the Gardasil vaccine. (A placebo is an inert material that is designed as a control to study the effectiveness of the vaccine.) The results showed that the reactions of pain, swelling, and redness in the aluminum containing placebo were significantly higher than the saline placebo and almost as high as the reactions from the Gardasil vaccine itself. This suggests that much of the reaction for this particular vaccine comes from the aluminum component.
It is clear that aluminum can accumulate and become toxic in certain populations with poorly working kidneys, such as premature babies and patients in renal failure. The FDA has limited the amount of aluminum present in certain IV solutions to avoid any risk of reaching a toxic level and suggests that the safe maximum dose in premature babies is 25 micrograms per day.
However, the FDA has not limited the amount of aluminum in vaccines. While not all vaccines contain aluminum, some common vaccines do (see the table on page 276). The amount of aluminum in those vaccines ranges from 125 to 850 micrograms of aluminum per dose of vaccine. When you compare this to the recommended dose in premature babies, and you recognize that healthy babies are given multiple vaccines at once, you see the concern.
Our perspective on this issue is that Dr. Sears has issued a wake-up call for more research. We know that premature babies with poorly functioning kidneys who receive certain IV fluids can become aluminum toxic. We don’t know if that information can be extrapolated to other populations. What about healthy six-month-old babies with normal kidneys who receive aluminum by injection into the muscle? How much extra protection does the extra weight and better kidney function offer? And how quickly is the aluminum eliminated when introduced intravenously versus intramuscularly?
We don’t know how this research is going to turn out. It might be like thimerosal, where a plausible theory of harm has been generally disproved after several subsequent studies. Or it might end up like DTP versus DTaP. DTP was a whole-cell pertussis vaccine used in the past that was very reactive, meaning it had a large number of side effects. In the 1990s, the medical community switched to DTaP, an acellular pertussis vaccine that provides equal protection with fewer side effects.
We am very comforted by the fact that aluminum is a natural part of every child’s diet. One study suggests that by six months of age, breast-fed children ingest over 6,000 micrograms of aluminum, while formula-fed children ingest between 30,000 and
120,000 micrograms. In contrast, the maximum dose of aluminum from vaccines in the first six months is around 3,000 micrograms.