Student & Teacher Research Initiative
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Frequently Asked Questions
(last update: 12/02/18)

Q. Can I stay healthy without being vaccinated?

A. Yes, absolutely! There are many ways to stay healthy, including having a good diet, taking nutritional supplements, and getting enough sun, fresh air and sleep. Many individual people and population groups choose not to vaccinate, and there is no scholarly evidence that their health is directly undermined as a result. Although a comprehensive "vaccinated versus unvaccinated" study has never been done, smaller studies have found unvaccinated people actually tend to be healthier.

Q. Am I required by law to get vaccinated?

A. No. All vaccines are optional in the UK, and this includes the vaccines recommended to university students.

Q. Should I take every vaccine my healthcare provider recommends?

A. Not necessarily. While you should always talk to a qualified healthcare professional before making a decision on any vaccine, it is important to remember that every vaccine is different, and so is every person. You may react very well to vaccine A, but very poorly to vaccine B, whilst your friend may have the opposite pattern. Some people may react well to all vaccines, and some people badly to all. That's why it's crucial to research each and every vaccine individually before you consent to receive it. Unfortunately, doctors and nurses are given very little training in the science of vaccination, nor in the possible side effects, so it really is up to you to do the research yourself. Your doctor may not necessarily agree with your decision and may even try to put pressure on you to do something you're not sure about -  but remember, it is your body and your choice, and ultimately you do not require your doctor's approval for the health choices you make. You are free to decline all medical treatments offered to you for any or no reason, and this certainly includes vaccines. 

Q. If I react badly to a vaccine, isn't that a sign I would have had an even worse reaction to the disease?

A. Not usually, no. This is because bad reactions to vaccines are rarely caused by the antigen (disease) component, but by other vaccine ingredients. It is thought many vaccine adverse reactions are caused by the adjuvant (an ingredient to heighten immune response) they contain. Vaccines frequently use an aluminium adjuvant, and this can cause severe adverse reactions in some individuals. Others may react to the animal proteins vaccines contain (such as those with egg allergies). It is important to note vaccines contain many ingredients other than the antigen, and you should be fully aware of what each vaccine you consent to receive contains, and what every ingredient's possible effects are. We list all vaccine ingredients for the specific vaccines we cover on our vaccine pages, and you can learn more about the ingredients of other vaccines here.

Q. Am I definitely immune to a disease once I've had the vaccine for it?

A. Unfortunately not. No vaccine is 100% effective, and some vaccines are less effective than others. The only way to know if you have antibody titres to a disease (which is how vaccine efficacy is measured, although this doesn't necessarily equate to disease immunity) is to have a blood test. Vaccine immunity doesn't "take" in everyone, and also can wear off. 

Q. I've already had a certain vaccine, but my doctor / university / workplace says I need a "booster". Do I really need it - isn't it possible I'm immune already?

A. Yes, it is possible. You may very well still be producing antibody titres from previous vaccines, and therefore you do not need a "booster". The only way to know is to request a titre test, which you will probably have to pay for yourself. It is certainly worth doing this however, as many organisations or work placements that require you to have a certain vaccine, will accept a positive titre test instead. You may have titres for a disease even if you have never had the vaccine, so it is always worth requesting a titer test before getting any vaccine.

Q. What about herd immunity? Aren't I putting others at risk by not getting vaccinated?

A. Herd immunity as induced by vaccines is theoretical. There is no solid evidence that vaccines can achieve herd immunity; the theory of herd immunity was developed by observing the progression of natural infection, not vaccination. Dr. Kelly Brogan discusses one of the earliest assertions of the herd immunity theory, stating that, “it has no basis in vaccine-induced antibody production and heralds from an observation by A.W. Hedrich, in 1933, that measles outbreaks in Boston between 1900 and 1930 were suppressed when 68% of the children contracted the virus.”  

In addition, we do not know how effective the vaccines that are administered are, since people are not routinely followed up after receiving vaccinations to see if the vaccine has been effective. Some people do not produce antibody titres in response to vaccinations; some people do produce them but still contract the disease. There are many reports (here, here and here) of disease outbreaks in highly vaccinated populations.

So in short, no, there is no clear evidence you will undermine the health of those around you by not getting vaccinated. Conversely, you may undermine their health if you receive a live virus vaccine (such as the MMR) as these can shed and infect others, especially those with compromised immune systems.

Q. Are vaccines solely responsible for the decline in infectious diseases?

A. No. Improvements in nutrition, sanitation and hygiene have done as much if not more in reducing infectious disease. Disease tends to spread in environments where there is overcrowding, inadequate nutrition, and poor sanitation. Well-nourished individuals in first world countries are not at high risk from most of the diseases vaccines aim to prevent.  

Q. Are serious side effects from vaccines rare or common?

A. Somewhere in between, although we don't know for sure. It is estimated that less than 10% of adverse reactions to vaccines are actually reported, and very often doctors mislabel a vaccine reaction as a coincidental health outcome, not related to the vaccine. This makes it hard to know for sure how common serious side effects from vaccines are, but they are certainly more common than the "one in a million" figure that is often quoted. If you believe you have had a bad reaction to a vaccine, and you live in the UK, you should report it via the Yellow Card Scheme.

Q. Why do doctors and other health professionals not make people aware of the risks?

A. Often because they don't know them themselves. Doctors and nurses are given very little training on vaccine adverse reactions. They are instead given very aggressive messages that vaccines are almost unequivocally "safe and effective", and, as busy professionals do not have the time to do the necessary research to question this statement. It can also because they are financially incentivised to vaccinate as many people as possible.

Q. Do the doctors and other healthcare professionals who recommend vaccines to me take responsibility if I have a bad reaction?

A. No, they don't. Your doctor (or nurse, or other vaccine provider) is not liable if you have a bad reaction to a vaccine. Nor are the pharmaceutical companies who produce the vaccines. 

Q. So who is responsible if I am seriously injured by a vaccine?

A. Effectively, the British tax payer. The Vaccine Damage Payment scheme was set up in 1979 as a provision of the UK Welfare State to provide compensation to people with vaccine injuries. However, to receive compensation, a vaccine injury victim must meet stringent criteria. The person must be severely disabled as a result of vaccination, with disablement assessed as at least 60%. However, there is absolutely no guarantee that if you are injured by a vaccine, you will receive any compensation from this scheme at all. Just 35 payments were made between 1997 and 2005, despite many thousands more claims being likely to have been made. 

Q. Even if vaccines do come with a risk, aren't the diseases they protect against more dangerous?

A. In many cases, no. On our vaccine pages, we specifically evaluate the risks of the disease, versus the risks of the vaccine, using statistical information and facts, to help you make an informed choice. Consider that a market must be created for vaccinations, as they are not compulsory, and that one of the most effective ways of achieving vaccine compliance is to use "scare tactics" about the diseases they aim to prevent. If you take the time to evaluate the actual data, you may find diseases such as measles and mumps are not as scary as you have been led to believe.  

However, it is also important to remember that vaccines do not necessarily mean you are protected against the disease, nor does being unvaccinated necessarily mean you will contract it. If you compare your own vaccine records to today's vaccine schedule, you will probably find there are many diseases being vaccinated for today, that you have never been vaccinated against, and have also never contracted. 

Q. My doctor has strongly recommended I get certain vaccines for college / university, but your site says they're not always necessary. Don't doctors know best in this area?

A. Unfortunately, not always. Doctors receive very little training in medical school on vaccinations, and most do not know, for instance, the ingredients of a vaccine or what a package insert is.

Q. What is a package insert? My doctor showed me a patient information leaflet; aren't they the same thing?

A. No, they're not. The package insert is the detailed document (typically 10-25 pages long) that comes with every vaccine vial and that is produced by the vaccine manufacturer. This insert lists things like possible serious side effects, that your doctor usually won't tell you about, often because they don't know. We have links to the relevant package inserts at the bottom of every one of our vaccine pages. Please study them carefully before you consent to receive any vaccine. Many package inserts mention at section 13.1 that the vaccine has not been evaluated for its carcinogenic (cancer-causing), mutagenic (DNA-damaging), or sterilant (fertility-impairing) potential. 

Q. Are all doctors unequivocally in favour of all vaccines?

A. No, they aren't. Many doctors have expressed concerns about individual vaccines, and the vaccine schedule as a whole, and some of them have written books about their concerns. We list some of these books in our library section. Other doctors, immunologists, and research scientists have published studies regarding vaccine safety concerns, and spoken out on vaccine documentaries. Many other healthcare professionals and scientists harbour concerns in private, but are reluctant to speak out, as people who raise concerns about vaccine safety are often viciously attacked and can even have their lives threatened

Q. Our parents and grandparents received all their vaccinations and seem to be fine. Why is there so much concern about vaccine safety now?

A. Largely because the vaccine schedule has greatly increased in dose, number and frequency since our parents and grandparents were children. Children born in the 1980s received around ten vaccines by the age of 18 (and earlier cohorts received even fewer), however, many more vaccines have been added to the schedule since. You may be surprised to see today's childhood immunisation schedule, especially if you compare it to your own vaccine records, or your parents'. Children and young people are receiving far more vaccinations today than they ever have at any point in history, and there is no long-term data showing this is "safe". The children in the most vaccinated nation on earth, the USA, have the highest infant mortality rate out of 20 wealthy countries, whilst more than half of all American children now suffer from a chronic health problem

Q. I'm vegetarian / vegan. Are vaccines appropriate for me to take?

A. In most cases, no, Most vaccines contain animal derivatives and/or are grown on an animal cell culture. A small number use a synthetic culture and may qualify as vegetarian or vegan, but it is important to check the ingredients. Chicken embryos, monkey kidney (Vero) cells and canine kidney (MDCK) cells are all commonly used in vaccine production. 

Q. I'm pro-life. Is it true aborted foetal cells are used in vaccine production?

A. Yes, it is true. Some vaccines, including the MMR and Hepatitis A, are grown on a cell culture derived from aborted foetuses. The foetuses used for this process were intentionally delivered by water bag abortion, meaning they were born alive so that their organs could be harvested for vaccine production. 

Q. Do vaccines cause autism?

A. This is not a straightforward question to answer, but the most concise response is "we don't know". The myth that the link between vaccines and autism has been "debunked" is widely circulated, but inaccurate, because the necessary studies to discredit this link have not been done. First of all, a nationwide survey of vaccinated versus unvaccinated children has never been done, which is crucial to our understanding of any putative vaccine-autism link. However, smaller studies have found autism to be more common in vaccinated children. Further, to discredit the link between autism and vaccines, we would need studies investigating every vaccine, individually and in synergy with the others it may be given with. These studies have never been done either. Only one vaccine has been extensively investigated for its link to autism, and that is the MMR. However, recent research has linked the aluminium adjuvant vaccines contain to autism, and the MMR, as a live virus vaccine, does not contain an aluminium adjuvant. Therefore, we still do not know what the link is, if any, between vaccines and autism - but it is crucial that this link continues to be researched.

Q. Are you an ideologically motivated website financed by the international anti-vaccine conspiracy?

No. We are not financed by anyone; we have no revenue stream, do not solicit donations, and all our volunteers work unpaid. Our only ideological motivation is helping people to protect their health. 

Q. I don't agree with something I've read on this website and want to challenge you on it. What should I do?

A. You are welcome to contact us via the contact form on the home page. We welcome robust debate. However, abuse will not be tolerated, so if you wish to receive a reply, please keep any message civil and polite.