Guess what's floating around in vaccines? Cellophane. No, this isn't another of those "aborted fetal tissue, pig parts, space rocks" rants about how you're poisoning your kids and must be stupid if you don't know what's in them. But there are some freaky things in vaccines that are intentionally included. This one happens to be an accident though, or at least just poor processing.
Charred cellophane was found in some vaccines by Merck, and the FDA says it's the fault of the plant that makes the vaccines. It looks like this is hardly a surprise either, based on previous findings in past inspections. Yikes.
Apparently in 2008, the FDA had issued a formal warning letter about conditions at the West Point, Pennsylvania, plant. But since then, there have been issues with metal particles, cracks in vaccine vials, and Merck not following protocol and reporting adverse affects to the FDA in the proper time frame.
But back to the cellophane, they say that pieces of the shrink wrap that covers the glass vials weren't washed and removed during cleaning, and then were charred later during sterilization via heat. Apparently 12 reports have come in, four from Merck's own internal sample testing, and eight from consumers. Eek. And this is since 2009. Anyone else a little bothered that it's been noted for two years? I mean, I know things work slow, but still.
Anyway, this would affect Merck's Gardasil vax (because it needs more bad press, right?), Varivax (chicken pox), Pneumovax, Zostavax, MMR II, and Antivenin (used to treat black widow bites). Hoo boy. Merck says it's all good, though, and they don't know of any risks to people, but the FDA? Not agreeing! They say you can't rule it out. Anything floating in an injectable is obviously a concern, and doctors have been warned to look for ... floating brown particles in vials. Gross.
However, I'm not saying, "Don't vaccinate! Boogeyman in your vials!" but seriously, this bothers me. It's a hard enough choice for moms to decide where they stand when it comes to vaccines with the ingredients that are supposed to be in them. In my opinion, we could stand to really change ingredients to be healthier in the first place and cut out some of the things we know aren't good for people instead of insisting that such a limited amount will be fine. I know not all moms agree, but that's okay, I don't expect everyone to. Vaccines are a really tough, personal choice that everyone has to make up their own mind about. But hearing about things like this just makes our choice even harder. I know a little part of me worries with every vaccine my kids get, but I don't want to have to be worrying about floating, burned plastic.
Does this worry you?
Image via haukeland/Flickr