Better safe than sorry, but WHOA!
I’ve always wanted to be a superhero, but I never really knew what I wanted my super power to be until I got pregnant.
To explain, I must first flashback to when I was a little girl and my friend came down with a bad case of the chickenpox. She came to my house and we played and played. but I didn’t catch it. No itchy spots for me!
However, my mother did get it. Considering she was in her late twenties, her case was severe and I never understood why I didn't catch it as well.
So back to me as a pregnant adult, during my third trimester, a close relative had an outbreak of shingles.
I was terrified of the possibility of becoming exposed while pregnant to such a painful virus, so I went to my OB/GYN to see if there was anything I can do.
“Well, you’ve had chicken pox before, right?” He asked.
“No, I never did.”
“But your blood work shows that you are immune," he said. "Hmm, that’s odd.”
And that’s when I discovered my super power: Being immune to the chicken pox. (Don’t be jealous. We can’t all be me!)
Which is why I did some research into all the Internet has to offer when you're a bored hypochondriac with superhuman chicken pox vaccination powers. I've done plenty of late-night WedMDing, but what I did NOT expect to find was the list of ingredients.
Warning: What I’m about to reveal may turn your stomach ...
According to data from the CDC the varicella vaccine contains:
- Human embryonic lung cell cultures
- Guinea pig cell cultures
- Human diploid cell cultures (WI-38)
- Human diploid cell cultures (MRC-5)
- Hydrolyzed gelatin
- Sodium chloride
- Monosodium L-glutamate
- Sodium phosphate dibasic
- Potassium phosphate monobasic
- Potassium chloride
- Bovine calf serum
WHAT THE WHAT?!?!
Human embryonic lung cell culture? Sure, OK!
Guinea pig cell culture? Hmmm. Guinea pigs ARE cute, but I’m not entirely sure I’m down for injecting their cells into mine.
Urea? That sounded like urine, so I had to look it up ... and yeah, I wasn’t totally off base. Technically, MedicineNet describes it as "a nitrogen-containing substance normally cleared from the blood by the kidney into the urine." So ... that still sounds like urine to me.
Bovine calf serum? Yeah, it’s from a cow. I mean, meat-eaters shouldn’t be too concerned about this one, right?
All of these things mixed together make for a vitally important vaccine, but when you break it down, it’s kind of, shall I say … gross?
So, do you skip the vaccine and take the chance of contracting a potentially deadly virus because of these absolutely disgusting contents?
I had to know more, so I asked microbiologist Irwin Koransky for his two cents. Koransky explained:
"Viruses have to be grown in living cells and vaccines must contain live viruses in order to be effective, so it makes sense that some residual amount of the animal and human cells must be present in the vaccine. Some of the other items appear to be cell support materials, like the potassium chloride, meaning they are necessary for keeping alive the cells that keep alive the virus. The presence of these preservatives sounds worse that it is ...
Besides, disgusting is in the eyes of the beholder. When considering whether or not to get any vaccine you must weigh the risks of getting the disease against the possible side effects the vaccine could have. Chicken pox is a harmless illness for kids, but for adults, it can be deadly. I do believe this vaccine is safe. There should be no problem despite the ick-factor of the list of ingredients.”
In 2005 the varicella vaccine was combined with the infamous MMR vaccine which has been falsely and controversially suspected as a cause of autism. Multiple studies have now shown these vaccines do NOT cause autism, FYI. Sorry, Jenny McCarthy.
Truth is, vaccines have done AMAZING things for humanity.
The World Health Organization states that "vaccines annually prevent almost 6 million deaths worldwide. In the USA, there has been a 99% decrease in incidence for the nine diseases for which vaccines have been recommended for decades, accompanied by a similar decline in mortality."
There you have it, folks!
If you don’t have my super power, it’s best to get vaccinated, even if it gives you the heebie-jeebies.