Parental Vaccine Safety Concerns in 2009

1 Mar

A paper in today’s issue of pediatrics looks at vaccine safety concerns amongst parents. The paper

Parental Vaccine Safety Concerns in 2009
Gary L. Freed, Sarah J. Clark, Amy T. Butchart, Dianne C. Singer, and Matthew M. Davis. All of the University of Michigan.

the abstract states:

OBJECTIVE: Vaccine safety concerns can diminish parents’ willingness to vaccinate their children. The objective of this study was to characterize the current prevalence of parental vaccine refusal and specific vaccine safety concerns and to determine whether such concerns were more common in specific population groups.

METHODS: In January 2009, as part of a larger study of parents and nonparents, 2521 online surveys were sent to a nationally representative sample of parents of children who were aged ?17 years. The main outcome measures were parental opinions on vaccine safety and whether the parent had ever refused a vaccine that a doctor recommended for his or her child.

RESULTS: The response rate was 62%. Most parents agreed that vaccines protect their child(ren) from diseases; however, more than half of the respondents also expressed concerns regarding serious adverse effects. Overall, 11.5% of the parents had refused at least 1 recommended vaccine. Women were more likely to be concerned about serious adverse effects, to believe that some vaccines cause autism, and to have ever refused a vaccine for their child(ren). Hispanic parents were more likely than white or black parents to report that they generally follow their doctor’s recommendations about vaccines for their children and less likely to have ever refused a vaccine. Hispanic parents were also more likely to be concerned about serious adverse effects of vaccines and to believe that some vaccines cause autism.

CONCLUSIONS: Although parents overwhelmingly share the belief that vaccines are a good way to protect their children from disease, these same parents express concerns regarding the potential adverse effects and especially seem to question the safety of newer vaccines. Although information is available to address many vaccine safety concerns, such information is not reaching many parents in an effective or convincing manner. Pediatrics 2010;125:654–659

The study was a survey of households with children. They contacted extra Hispanic and African-American households to get better statistics on those groups. But they normalized the data to account for this “oversampling”.

Table 3 shows that 11.5% of parents have rejected at least one recommended vaccine. Most listed the HPV (human papillomavirus) as the rejected vaccine. HPV is new, and is given to teenage girls to prevent a viral infection known to be a cause of cervical cancer. (click to enlarge)

Parental Vaccine Refusal

Table 4 shows parental attitudes for a number of vaccines. Reasons for rejecting vaccines vary from “I would rather my child got this disease” to “I personally know someone who experienced a harmful adverse event”. (click to enlarge)

Parent experiences and attitudes on childhood vaccines

The survey explored the views of parents on the autism/vaccine question:

One current specific immunization safety concern has been the spurious association of vaccines with autism. Although peer-reviewed original scientific research and multiple expert committees that have reviewed all available data on this issue have failed to show any association between vaccines and autism, anecdotally the concern continues to affect parents. Our study indicates that a disturbingly high proportion of parents, >1 in 5, continue to believe that some vaccines cause autism in otherwise healthy children. This finding indicates that current public health education campaigns on this issue have not been effective in allaying the concerns of many parents. Officials must attempt to develop more effective and targeted education campaigns that focus directly on this issue if their goal is to match parents’ level of concern with the available scientific evidence. Recently, the use of newer social marketing techniques have been suggested as potential strategies to address vaccine safety concerns.

>1 in 5 believe the “vaccines cause autism” story. Amazing. I’m sure that will be seen as a both a victory and a challenge to the groups pushing that message.

I hate to say it, but someone needs to. This study may be the most valuable study the trial lawyers working on autism/vaccine cases have seen. Much more so than the bad science of the Geiers or the speculation in Medical Hypotheses. Where this will be valuable will be in helping select a jury that is as sympathetic to their cause as possible.

21 Responses to “Parental Vaccine Safety Concerns in 2009”

  1. Clay March 1, 2010 at 07:03 #

    1 in 5 believe the “vaccines cause autism” story. Amazing.

    So? I saw a recent poll of Republicans that said that 33% favor Mitt Romney, and 20% support Sarah Palin. Maybe they found the same bunch of gullible people? 😉

  2. Science Mom March 1, 2010 at 16:02 #

    Sullivan, I have only given this a quick read but a few things jump out at me. The response rate was quite low and non-vaccinating parents are considerably paranoid about inquisition of their children’s vaccine status and are thus, more inclined to refuse to participate. They also provided a limited scope of vaccines refused but didn’t explain why all vaccines weren’t included. Lastly, I think that this survey emphasises the need for better vaccine safety concern communication by public health agencies and healthcare professionals.

  3. barb March 29, 2010 at 19:34 #

    What the public needs to know is that the peanut allergy epidemic is a man-made epidemic caused by the use of peanut oil as a diluent in vaccines. There is a new book out “The History of the Peanut Allergy Epidemic” by Heather Fraser. Heather is a historian and parent of a child with a fatal peanut allergy. She found the same connection that I found except I found even more.

    Patents make fascinating reading. There you can read that every food oil known to man can be mixed together and used as the diluent in vaccine adjuvants. Food waste is used to feed the cultures grown for vaccines and antibiotics. It is only the last feeding that doesn’t use our everyday foods. It doesn’t take but a trace of protein remaining in the vaccine to produce a food allergy in the unlucky child who gets that shot. It has been known since 1834 that innoculating an animal with food protein causes food allergy.

    Heather’s book is fascinating. It is available from or from her website.

    So now the question becomes… 1 in 17 chance of a child under three getting a serious food allergy…. 1 in 125 chance of a child getting a fatal peanut allergy…. or measles? mumps? flu?

  4. Chris March 30, 2010 at 03:16 #

    barb, unless you link to real scientific documentation and not a book written by a non-scientist, you have proven nothing.

    The reason that a child as a small chance of getting measles is due to vaccines. Before 1963, a child had a 95% chance of getting measles before age 18. Of those about one in 1000 had some some bad outcome from deafness, blindness, mental retardation to death.

  5. Sullivan March 30, 2010 at 03:58 #


    I expect Barb is a hit-and-run commenter who won’t be back.

    I did a search for patents with the words vaccine and peanut. There were some in recent years, but nothing going back far enough to be the cause of the rise in peanut allergies that is anecdotally reported.

  6. Chris March 30, 2010 at 04:25 #

    My search brought up development of a vaccine to counteract peanut allergies!

    I know she is a the hit and run type, but one does have to answer all sorts of theories.

  7. barb March 30, 2010 at 13:49 #

    I posted twice on secret ingredients – peanut oil doesn’t have to be under a patent to be used – and a list of patents.

    I found the first use of oil in a vaccine to be 1919.

    1919 PRESENT STATUS OF PNEUMOCOCCUS VACCINE.  Russell L. Cecil. Am J Public Health (N Y). 1919 August; 9(8): 589–592. ‘In this experiment we decided to substitute a pneumococcus lipovaccine for the saline vaccine which we had used at Camp Upton. This vaccine was prepared for us by Col. E.’ R. Whitmore of the Army Medical School, and the dose finally adopted after some preliminary experiments was 30 billion pneumococci (10 billion of each of the fixed types in one cc. of oil).

    At Google books, the “Peanut Allergy Answer” book says  1920 was the first reference of a nut allergy.

    Each childhood vaccine is worth a billion dollars to the vaccine manufacturer. Why would they fund research to show vaccines are dangerous? They don’t! The CDC, FDA, WHO all have financial ties to the industry and the top executives of Merck and the other manufacturers are members of their boards and sit in on all of the meetings.

    As far as the vaccine to counteract peanut allergies – it isn’t very successful.

  8. barb March 30, 2010 at 13:51 #

    My other two posts must have been too long. Here’s a short quote:

    “The nature of GlaxoSmithKline’s adjuvant is a trade secret, but David Stout, president for worldwide pharmaceuticals at the company, said the ingredients had already been given to people in other products, though not in this particular combination.”

    What is being injected into our children? Why can’t we find out? What adjuvants are used in the vaccines?
    An Access to Information request to Health Canada for the 100% composition of vaccines given to infants received the response, “I regret to inform you that the exact composition of these vaccines cannot be disclosed to you as the information is protected under ATIA (Access to Information Act) Section 20(1)(a)(b)(c). This is a mandatory exemption which protects confidential business information.”
    The Act, under Third Party Information, states, 20. (1) Subject to this section, the head of a government institution shall refuse to disclose any record requested under this Act that contains a) trade secrets of a third party; b) financial, commercial, scientific or technical information that is confidential information supplied to a government institution by a third party and is treated consistently in a confidential manner by the third party; c) information the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to result in material financial loss or gain to, or could reasonably be expected to prejudice the competitive position of, a third party; or d) information the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to interfere with contractual or other negotiations of a third party.”

  9. barb March 30, 2010 at 13:55 #

    Here is one of your “scientific studies”

    Adding to the confusion is that in countries like Indonesia and Thailand, where peanuts are ubiquitous, there is virtually no peanut allergy,

    I checked out the study found that they had screened all of the children for allergies and eliminated all the ones who had reacted. The title and the short excerpt is all most doctors read. They would miss this:

    As stated earlier, it is possible that we dismissed sick young children and those with atopic tendency from our study. However, lack of peanut reaction among young children was observed in the report from Singapore despite relatively common allergy skin reactions to peanuts among Singaporean children (15). It is also could be due to the fact that peanut is introduced somewhat later in life and to relative scarcity in using peanut butter as ingredients for daily food for infants and children within the Asian region. Most peanuts consumed within this part of the world were prepared by boiling rather than roasting and it has been demonstrated that peanut allergens could have been made more allergenic by roasting than boiling(16, 17)….

    Click to access Vol88_No8_27.pdf

    Plus I found an article from a newspaper in Singapore:

    Dr Chiang Wen Chin, Associate Consultant, Paediatric Allergy, Immunology and Rheumatology, Department of Paediatrics, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital
    …A worrying trend is revealed by the relatively high prevalence of peanut hypersensitivity, now constituting almost a third of patients presenting for the diagnosis and treatment of food allergy in KK Hospital, Singapore. Both the clinical characteristics and peanut protein specific allergen determination suggest a phenotype that is similar to that of European and North American patients, although of less severity. Efforts must be made to educate our population and to increase the awareness of food allergy and its treatment, especially in the use of Epipen in the case of anaphylaxis. A major revision of labelling laws and regulations is also urgently needed in Asia.

    So your “scientific studies” peer-reviewed are frequently a joke.

  10. barb March 30, 2010 at 14:05 #


    Adjuvant 65 (containing peanut oil, mannide monooleate and aluminum monostearate);

    Influenza immunogen and vaccine
    …Vaccines or inocula are typically prepared from a recovered recombinant HBc chimer immunogen particles by dispersing the particles in a physiologically tolerable (acceptable) diluent vehicle such as water, saline phosphate-buffered saline (PBS), acetate-buffered saline (ABS), Ringer’s solution or the like to form an aqueous composition. The diluent vehicle can also include oleaginous materials such as peanut oil, squalane or squalene as is discussed hereinafter….
    …Another particularly preferred adjuvant for use with an immunogen of the present invention is an emulsion. A contemplated emulsion can be an oil-in-water emulsion or a water-in-oil emulsion. In addition to the immunogenic chimer protein particles, such emulsions comprise an oil phase of squalene, squalane, peanut oil or the like as are well known, and a dispersing agent. Non-ionic dispersing agents are preferred and such materials include mono- and di-C12-C24-fatty acid esters of sorbitan and mannide such as sorbitan mono-stearate, sorbitan mono-oleate and mannide mono-oleate. An immunogen-containing emulsion is administered as an emulsion….

    If you read the patents, you will get an idea about what is just common knowledge of the ingredients used in the vaccines. Not all vaccines are patented because trade secret protection means you don’t have disclose anything to the public other than what you put on the package insert.

  11. Chris March 30, 2010 at 14:28 #

    barb, patents, news articles and links to 1919 papers are not real scientific papers. Just link to the PubMed links please.

  12. jr March 30, 2010 at 15:41 #

    at least in the case of food allergies, the recent increase is less ambiguous then that of autism.

    “From 1997 to 2007, the prevalence of reported food allergy increased 18% among children under age 18 years.”

    interesting info barb – thanks. Given the rigorous defense of the continued use of mercury in flu shots, there is no reason to think any other ingredient would not be defended as rigorously.

    by the way, a piece here a few weeks ago on safety improvements expected by moving away from egg based vaccine production tends to add validity to this general area of concern.

    From your post Sullivan
    “Egg based technology leaves the risk for allergic reactions to egg proteins that might remain in the vaccine. By moving away from this technology, the U.S. could have a safer vaccine in place.”

    I definitely have a problem with the idea of trade secret ingredients in mandatory vaccines.

  13. Chris March 30, 2010 at 16:18 #

    barb, the following is a list of all vaccines approved for use in the USA:

    Please tell us which of them have peanut oil. Because during the whole should H1N1 have adjuvants I read somewhere the there were no oil based adjuvants approved by the FDA.

    jr, what pediatric vaccine is available that still has thimerosal? And don’t mention influenza, because that is available without thimerosal. Be sure to point to supporting documents.

  14. Sullivan March 30, 2010 at 16:21 #

    Here is a list of excipients in US vaccines

    Click to access excipient-table-1.pdf

    peanut oil is not listed. This leaves you with claiming that peanuts are “secret” ingredients.

    When you have some evidence, do come back.

  15. jr March 30, 2010 at 16:41 #

    All of the flu shots are still approved for pediatric use, and there are insufficient quantities of the thimerosal free versions to avoid pediatric use. Parents and pregnant women only avoid them when they are educated independently from a trip to the doctor.

    Thanks for the link Sullivan. I did not say it was an ingredient, I said all ingredients should be disclosed – is no trade secrets. However, I don’t see mercury listed either, although we know it is in thimerosol.

  16. Chris March 30, 2010 at 16:43 #

    Big deal. Most kids do not get the influenza vaccine. Try another boogie man.

  17. barb March 30, 2010 at 17:11 #

    Here’s the code about culture mediums. It is assumed that all the food protein is if the final culture doesn’t use foods known to cause allergies. That is no guarantee that trace amounts of protein don’t remain in the final product.

    Code of Federal Regulations]
    [Title 21, Volume 7]
    [Revised as of April 1, 2008]
    [CITE: 21CFR610.15]
    Extraneous protein; cell culture produced vaccines. Extraneous protein known to be capable of producing allergenic effects in human subjects shall not be added to a final virus medium of cell culture produced vaccines intended for injection. If serum is used at any stage, its calculated concentration in the final medium shall not exceed 1:1,000,000.

    Mar Biotechnol (NY) . 2005 Jan 17; {Epub ahead of print}

    Metabolically Engineered Rhodobacter sphaeroides RV strains for Improved Biohydrogen Photoproduction Combined with Disposal of Food Wastes… acidogenic fermentation of actual fruit and vegetable wastes.
    ..In contrast, complex media will use extracts of a variety of things, including left-over animal parts (cow brains and hearts), yeast (from brewing) or digests of plants or animal slurries (peptones are one example of this category). The exact composition of these extracts is often unknown. The sources of these extracts often take advantage of waste products from other industries to save money….

    US Patent 6953574 – Method for producing a fermented hydrolyzed medium containing microorganisms
    Vegetables preferably used are of leaf and root types e.g. various cabbages, beets, rutabaga, carrot, pumpkin, spinach, beet, watermelon, melon, peanut, artichoke, eggplant, pepper sweet, asparagus, and tomato. Fruits to be preferably used are apples, pears, kiwi, plums, citrus, apricots, grapes/raisins, mango, guava, bananas, biwa, cornel, fig, cherry plum, quince, peach, pomegranate, avocado, pineapple, date, papaya. Berries preferably include raspberry, bilberry, guelder rose, dog rose, ash berry (red and black), currant (red, black, and white), sea-buckthorn berries, gooseberry, schizandra, blackberry, cowberry, bird cherry, cranberry, sweet cherry, cherry, and strawberry. Preferred herbs and their roots are ginseng, celery, parsley, dill, dandelion, nettle, ginseng, and spinach. Preferred high protein products are offals including spleen, kidney, heart, liver, brains, maw, and stomach as well as mushrooms, sea products (fish, mussel, plankton for example), eggs or nuts. Preferred products of beekeeping are propolis, honey, royal jelly, and pollen of flower.

  18. barb March 30, 2010 at 17:45 #

    A quote from Heather’s book:

    Page 9 – …the World Trade Organization upheld WHO Codex Alimentarius guidelines in all trade disputes. This encouraged legislative change that forced manufacturers in many countries to comply with “guidelines”. With the increasing reliance on and power given to WHO guidelines, it was proving problematic that the WHO had deemed it unnecessary to list, for example, refined peanut oil on food labels. This guideline extended to the pharmaceutical labeling due to its GRAS status in the US. Many pharmaceutical products including vitamins and vaccines historically have contained refined peanut oil and continued to include it without informing the consumer. Corporate law also shielded exact ingredients of patented pharmaceuticals.”

    So maybe you don’t like my reference but we have all heard of the GRAS list.

    • Sullivan March 30, 2010 at 18:09 #


      when you have some actual evidence you will be free and welcome to post. This blog is not a place for you to copy your website onto. People who wish to read what you have to say can go to That says a lot.

  19. Dallas Texas Wedding cakes March 13, 2013 at 13:48 #

    Well written and i am subscribed to you

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