Basic vaccine chemistry for those who are confused by it

vaccine chemistry

One of the problems, among many, with anti-vaccine activists, is a complete misunderstanding of the basics of vaccine chemistry. People get scared of long chemical names, or chemicals themselves, and wonder if a vaccine might be dangerous.

Setting aside the fact that vaccines undergo substantial and robust preclinical and clinical testing which has shown that the safety and effectiveness of vaccines are settled science, most of the chemicals in vaccines are not dangerous, especially from the aspect of toxicity.

The website, The Logic of Science, published an article about five simple chemistry facts. It’s a valuable article, so I wanted to utilize their list and apply it to an article about basic vaccine chemistry.

I know that this will oversimplify vaccine chemistry. But I think most of us, who focus on the overwhelming evidence that vaccines are safe and effective, know that the fundamental principles of chemistry are the basis of biomedical science which is the foundation of vaccines.

Without further ado, let’s look at basic vaccine chemistry.

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The facts about vaccine chemicals – debunking more pseudoscience

scientist in laboratory

If you spend any amount of time on the internet researching science and pseudoscience, you’ll find alarming claims about toxic vaccine chemicals – you know, aluminum, mercury, formaldehyde, and whatever unpronounceable molecule are all the rage for the anti-vaccine crowd. Of course, we obsess over substances not only in our vaccines, but also in our foods, air, water, and coffee. Many of us try to present scientific evidence about those toxic vaccine chemicals. It can be frustrating and time-consuming.

Generally, the pseudoscience argument proceeds along the lines of “these unpronounceable chemicals are going to cause cancer.” Followed by a new trope or meme that something in vaccines does something, often without a picogram of evidence. 

But what the vaccine deniers are pushing about vaccines is based on a lack of knowledge about how toxicology – the study of the adverse effects of chemicals on living organisms, determines what is or isn’t toxic.

Paracelsus, a 16th-century Swiss-German physician, alchemist, astrologer, is traditionally thought to have founded the discipline of toxicology, an important branch of medicine, physiology, and pharmacology. Paracelsus wrote one of the most important principles of toxicology:

All things are poisons, for there is nothing without poisonous qualities. It is only the dose which makes a thing poison.

In other words, if you’re speaking about substances in foods or vaccines or anything, the most important principle is that the dose makes the poison (or toxin). Everything that we consume or breathe is potentially toxic but most important, the overriding principle must be the dose.

So, I’m going to do a disservice to the whole field of toxicology, which takes a lifetime of research and study, and I will attempt to digest it down to a few paragraphs, especially as it relates to those vaccine chemicals.

Continue reading “The facts about vaccine chemicals – debunking more pseudoscience”

Basic vaccine chemistry – help for science deniers

Basic vaccine chemistry

If you read almost any anti-vaccine screed, and if you have even a minimal chemistry background, you will assume that the anti-science vaccine deniers are also chemistry deniers. Therefore, I thought I would create a quick list of basic vaccine chemistry for those who have to deal with the vaccine deniers.

About a year ago, the website, The Logic of Science, published an article about five simple chemistry facts. I thought I’d take their list and apply it to an article about basic vaccine chemistry.

I know that we are oversimplifying chemistry. But I think most of us, who focus on the overwhelming evidence that vaccines are safe and effective, know that there are fundamental principles of chemistry that are the basis of biomedical science.

Without further ado, let’s look at basic vaccine chemistry.

Continue reading “Basic vaccine chemistry – help for science deniers”