Social Topics

HEP A Vaccine: Contents and Dangers

“Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable, communicable disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). It is usually transmitted person-to-person through the fecal-oral route or consumption of contaminated food or water. Hepatitis A is a self-limited disease that does not result in chronic infection. Most adults with hepatitis A have symptoms, including fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, and jaundice, that usually resolve within 2 months of infection; most children less than 6 years of age do not have symptoms or have an unrecognized infection. Antibodies produced in response to hepatitis A infection last for life and protect against reinfection. The best way to prevent hepatitis A infection is to get vaccinated.” – Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

You are most susceptible to hepatitis A if you:

Are a man who has sex with other men.

Travel to countries where hepatitis A is common.

Have sex with an infected person.

Use illegal drugs.

Have a clotting disorder (such as hemophilia).

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that children begin the hepatitis A vaccine schedule at one year of age. The schedule consists of two doses spaced six months apart and can be started at any age.

There are two hepatitis A vaccines made available for the public by two separate vaccine manufacturers. They are, Havrix which is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals and VAQTA which is manufactured by Merck & Co., Inc.

Havrix Ingredients:

aluminum hydroxide, amino acid supplement, polysorbate 20, formaldehyde, neomycin sulfate, phosphate buffered saline, MRC-5 celullar proteins, aminoglycoside antibiotic.

VAQTA Ingredients:

bovine albumin, sodium borate, formaldehyde, non-viral proteins, sodium chloride, neomycin.

-Danger Breakdown-

I will only discuss ingredients that have been found to have possible negative repercussions when used.


The Havrix version of the hep A vaccine is the only one that contains this ingredient, with 250 mcg of aluminum. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends no more than 5 mcg of aluminum per kg (about 2.2 lbs) of bodyweight. This means that the lowest weight a person can be to safely be given 250 mcg of aluminum is about 113 pounds. However, with the ACIP recommending the vaccine be started at one year of age, and the average one year old weighing 18.2-21.4 lbs, that means 250 mcg of aluminum is being given to a person that should (according to the FDA) only be given 41.4-48.6 mcg of aluminum. That is more than five times the recommended amount.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), taking in too much aluminum can lead to it accumulating in the bones and brain and becoming toxic. It can also cause neurological damage and can even cause death in cases where the child has weak kidneys, other kidney disorders, or in premature babies.

Amino Acids and Proteins:

Havrix contains amino acids and VAQTA contains non-viral proteins and bovine albumin, which is a protein. The amino acids and proteins typically contained in vaccines often come from foreign bodies such as chickens, monkeys, and cattle (bovine). According to Dr. Robyn Cosford, when foreign proteins make it into our bloodstream without having first been broken down (through our GI tract) it can set off an autoimmune response in our bodies. This means that our body’s immune system will start attacking things it shouldn’t. Dr. Cosford also states that, “By injecting things never meant to be in the body we are not only bypassing body defenses but wrongly activating other defenses.” This can cause autoimmune disorders such as: Addison’s disease, celiac disease, Graves disease, multiple sclerosis, pernicious anemia, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, reactive arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, type 1 diabetes, and others.


Formaldehyde, called formalin in its liquid form, is an ingredient in both of these vaccines. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) recognizes formaldehyde as a known carcinogen, which means it causes cancer. However, our bodies also naturally contain low levels of formaldehyde for synthesizing DNA and amino acids (“Vaccine Ingredients – Formaldehyde | Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia,” n.d.). The levels of formaldehyde in vaccines are largely considered non-dangerous with Havrix at .05  mg for a child and .1 mg for an adult. VAQTA contains .0004 mg for a child and .0008 mg for an adult.

However, the National Research Council states that, “Fewer than 20% but perhaps more than 10% of the general population may be susceptible to formaldehyde and may react acutely at any exposure level.”

MRC-5 Cellular Proteins:

MRC-5 was a baby boy that was aborted in the 1970’s at 14 weeks gestation, his cells are used in the Havrix version of the vaccine. In vaccines 100,000,000 strands of human DNA are allowed per dose. It is used as an adjuvant, helping the body’s immune system respond positively to the antigen (vaccine). This not only poses an ethical issue for those who believe abortion is wrong, but a medical one as well.

DNA contains blood, and when different blood types are mixed together within a human body bad things can happen. Dr. Helen Ratajczak conducted a study on what could go wrong with containing human DNA in vaccines. When asked why it can have negative side-effects Dr. Ratajczak said:

“Because it’s human DNA and recipients are humans, there’s homologous recombinaltion tiniker. That DNA is incorporated into the host DNA. Now it’s changed, altered self and body kills it. Where is this most expressed? The neurons of the brain. Now you have the body killing the brain cells and it’s an ongoing inflammation. It doesn’t stop, it continues through the life of that individual.”

She also found a correlation between a spike in autism in the mid 1990’s and when the chicken pox vaccine was cultured in human tissue.

In Closing:

The quote from the CDC website at the beginning of this post states that the antibodies produced from battling hepatitis A last for a lifetime, making a future infection very unlikely. Also, the means by which hepatitis A is typically contracted, through fecal to oral means or by ingesting contaminated food or drink, are easily remedied. Simple hygiene care, proper food treatment, and water filtration and treatment can solve both of these issues. Which then leaves the question as to why one needs the vaccine and the potential damage it may inflict? And why does the CDC say that the best way to avoid infection of hepatitis A is to get the vaccine, rather than to simply wash your hands and not eat or drink anything that might be contaminated? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section, I will read them and likely respond.


C. Wilson; Chronic Exposure and Human Health (1993), McFarland & Company taken from Our Toxic         Times Feb 1997 pgs 18 & 19.

Hepatitis A Information | Division of Viral Hepatitis | CDC. (2017, September 29). Retrieved from

Ratajczak, H. V. (2011). Theoretical Aspects of Autism: Cause – A Review. Journal of Immunotoxicology,     8(1), 68-79. Retrieved from           causes-a-review1-1.pdf

Vaccine Ingredients – Formaldehyde | Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Vaccine Ingredients. (n.d.). Retrieved from


  • Hope

    Your final question was really the one I thought of as well. Why would it be so highly recommended if those basic hygiene and safety practices are the best way to prevent. I could see maybe that being the best way to prevent in maybe some 3rd world countries where there is high water contamination risk, low hygiene practices, and therefore a higher risk for the disease. However, even in those scenarios, the illness is not deadly in most cases, and once you’ve had it, you then become immune from contracting it again.

  • Alexander

    I want to start off by saying I really appreciate your well researched post. You make a lot of great points with lots of very good data. I am a first-year medical student and I have seen amongst my peers some resistance towards people who refuse vaccines, but there is often a lot of logic behind the skepticism when it comes to vaccines.

    There is this principle that we learn in our training about autonomy of the patient and that the patient has the ultimate choice in what they decide to do with their own bodies. On the other hand, though, we are also taught beneficence, which is to always do what is best for the patient, to the best of our ability.

    Now with the Hepatitis A vaccine, according to the CDC article that you quoted: “Hepatitis A vaccines were recommended in the United States beginning in 1996. Since then, the number of cases reported each year in the U.S. has dropped from around 31,000 cases to fewer than 1,500 cases.” From the perspective of public health, that is fantastic. As doctors who are seeking what is best for their patients, the vaccine is what is best for the patient to eliminate the possibility of Hepatitis A, without having to have a first infection.

    Also, one cannot guarantee that all the food and drink is not contaminated. True, we do have very safe practices for our food and drink, but sometimes someone could be infected, without knowing, and spread those germs on through food or other innocent sources. With vaccines, for them to work most effectively, about 95% of the population needs to be immunized. This is a principle known as herd immunity. The more people that are vaccinated, the less likely the disease will spread to at risk populations. This, to me, seems like the best possibility for not only the patients not having to worry about contracting Hep A themselves, but also helping to protect potentially at-risk patients. This is the very principle of beneficence, doing what the physician thinks is best for their patient.

    Altogether, I am not trying to convince you to get all your vaccines, however as a future physician, I do believe that the benefits of receiving a Hep A vaccination is in the best interest of the patients and that, with the principle of beneficence in mind, is a leading factor in making that decision. At the end of the day, the patient does have the right to autonomy and that must be respected, but how will that affect the whole population going forward? It is a difficult discussion and perhaps if we take a comprehensive look at both the risks of getting the infection versus the risks of getting the vaccine, we can better weigh what needs to be done.

    Thank you for taking the time to read my post.

    Just a few extra things:
    I did wish to point you to an article regarding the aluminum in vaccines. I realize it is definitely biased towards getting vaccines, but it is worth a look:

    When it comes to formaldehyde, I definitely think we should come up with a way to screen for patients that would have adverse effects.

    Lastly, DNA does not contain blood. Blood has DNA, but not the other way around, however injecting DNA does have a small ability to cause issues, as you stated. I also completely understand a problem with the source of that DNA.

    • Junior

      Hello Alexander, thank you for your comment. I checked out the link you supplied regarding aluminum and saw some information that I had not come across before. There is one comment that stuck out to me however, “We are not sure exactly what the aluminum salt does, but it helps.” Perhaps it is just my skeptical nature, but the idea that I am just supposed to go along with something because a professional said it helps, but can’t explain how or why it helps, causes me concern. I will continue to investigate aluminum as an ingredient and see where it takes me. Thank you for providing the link.

      The way I understand it, herd immunity is a theory that the more people who are immune to a disease the less likely an immune-compromised person is to get infected by the disease. However, if vaccines provide immunity then why do so many people claim that parents who do not vaccinate put other children at risk? There is also the fact that diseases can be spread without human contact, so how exactly do parents who opt out of vaccinating their own children put vaccinated children at risk?

      No, we cannot guarantee that all food is uncontaminated, nor can anyone guarantee that a vaccine is going to be beneficial for everyone. Yet, for those who practice proper hygiene techniques regarding themselves, food, and drink, the risks of contracting Hep A are drastically lowered to the point of questioning the necessity of getting the vaccine. I understand those who travel to third-world, or unregulated countries needing the vaccine, but not the average American.

      I conducted an initial foray into whether or not the vaccine alone is responsible for the decrease in Hep A cases, but came up with little more than CDC statements and people parroting the CDC statements. It could turn out that it is the sole cause of the decrease, but experience in researching these vaccines has shown me not to trust what is on the surface. I will therefore keep digging and see what I uncover, while remaining open to the possibility that I have already been shown the answer.

      I apologize if I seem unreasonable in any way, but I find it difficult to reconcile that everything I am told regarding these vaccines is truth. This difficulty comes from the knowledge that pharmaceutical companies are exempt from paying for damages that their vaccines may have caused. As well as the fact that pharmaceutical companies are for profit companies and the number of “required” vaccines has increased dramatically over the last several decades. Then there is also the issue of people messing with things they do not understand and trying to bypass natural defenses in an effort to improve something. Whether or not one believes in God, the idea of unnaturally activating something within the body is a sketchy one.

      Thanks again for your comment, I hope to hear from you again in the future as I try to cover more of the vaccines.

      • Alexander

        Hello Junior and thank you for continuing this discussion. First off, you do not seem unreasonable at all, and I appreciate your logical and calm skepticism to my comment. From what I understand in my studies, the Aluminum helps to make the immune system more activated when introduced to the virus being injected, so less of the virus can be used to generate the same amount of immune responses.

        When it comes to herd immunity, you are correct in your statement, but with the fact that more and more parents are opting out of vaccines, that herd immunity is going away. For herd immunity to be effective, about 95% of people need to be immune, but with the growing rate of un-vaccinated children, there is a decreasing herd immunity and an increased likelihood of the disease coming back into prevalence. For example, in the recent measles outbreak, a lot of data points towards this decreased herd immunity.

        Proper hygiene isn’t guaranteed to be the perfect guard against Hep A, there is always the possibility that someone preparing your food does not follow proper hygiene and therefore there is that risk of infection. However, there is also not the guarantee, as you say, that the vaccine is not going to cause side-effects. I would agree that probably the majority of Americans may never come into contact with the Hep A virus (because even the max level of the CDC infection rate of 31,000 is about 0.0095% of the population), but I definitely feel that those that have the chance to come into contact with at risk populations, like those of us who work in health care, definitely need to receive the vaccine, even with practice very high standards of hygiene.

        It is very difficult to find any other reason for the potential decrease of Hep A, other than the CDC information, probably because no one sees it as beneficial to crunch those numbers, but other studies with other decreasing disease rates do tend to point towards the vaccine being the cause.
        What is interesting about building immunity through vaccinations is that it allows the body to create antibodies against something that has no possibility of harming us (at least, as far as the antigen is concerned). Healthcare also has an amazing technology to have those antibodies donated from one person to another (that is what we get from donated plasma). The antibodies themselves do not kill the “invaders” but rather activate the body to kill them. This could also be considered unnaturally activating something in our body, and yet we know that it works and is necessary for those who cannot create antibodies.

        Thank you for being open to discussion, and I definitely agree that pharmaceutical companies need to be held to a much higher standard than they are now, and I hope you have a good rest of your day.
        Hopefully I have helped to maybe broaden your view of vaccines, as you have helped me, and give you a glimpse into the physician’s view on this issue.

  • Donnie Malloy

    Thanks for this article, I am travelling to Nepal (from the U.S.) next month, and although I am skeptical of all vaccines, and didn’t want to get any of the 7 or 8 “highly recommended” vaccines that the CDC mentions for travel to Nepal, it seems like the Hep A vaccine is the only one of them that I really should get. Apparently after the earthquakes in Nepal a few years ago, many underground sewage and water lines have been crossed, and there is much contamination of the water and fresh (uncooked) foods. I will be doing my absolute best not to drink any of the water, and to only eat properly cooked foods, however from everyone who I talk to, this is often nearly impossible to do at a 100% success rate; many of those who I’ve talked to who have made this trip acquire some sort of food poisoning, or diarrhea, etc.. So in short, I think that I may go through with the Hep A vaccine before the trip (the disease is common in Nepal and is spread through the food/water).. although this information is very helpful in that I will try to request the VAQTA version of the vaccine, if it’s possible to get. From your research, would you say that this version of the vaccine is all around a safer option?

    Thanks again, -Donnie

    • Junior

      I would suggest the VAQTA version of the vaccine. It does share some of the risks of the Harris vaccine, such as formaldehyde, but it has fewer ingredients overall. I figure that anytime we take medicine or get vaccinated, the fewer ingredients, the better. I also completely understand you getting the HEP A vaccine when going to Nepal. The risk of disease is high there and I would get the vaccine if I was going there as well. Thank you for comment, I hope I helped!

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