The Campaign For Ethical vaccines
Alternatives to vaccines made from aborted babies
by Catherine Williams
Note. This article primarily concerns vaccines used in the
UK. Different vaccines will be available in different countries. However
many of the vaccines mentioned are distributed worldwide. See also US
news - Desumo to import Kitasato rubella vaccine into UK.
As parents strongly opposed to abortion my husband and I
were very concerned to learn that many childhood vaccines are manufactured
from the cell lines of aborted babies. We succeeded in obtaining alternative
polio, measles and mumps vaccines for our children, but were told that
no alternative rubella vaccine existed. During the mass measles vaccination
campaign in 1994 we did not allow our children to have the Measles, Mumps
and Rubella (MMR) vaccine provided by the government. Our children received
instead a measles-only vaccine derived from animal cells. I have continued
to try to find alternative vaccines both from the UK and elsewhere. I have
recently obtained a rubella vaccine from Japan. Our own children and eight
others have recently received this vaccination. This vaccine is derived
from rabbit cells. Though widely used in Japan for fifteen years, it is
not licenced for use in the UK. However it can be obtained and administered
I am writing this article to provide the information I
have obtained to other concerned parents. With this information, you will
be able to determine whether the vaccines administered to your children
are derived from aborted babies, and to decide whether to seek out the
Some common vaccines, including the rubella component of all MMR vaccines
worldwide except Japan, are produced from cell lines produced from the
tissue of aborted babies. Two cell lines commonly used are MRC5 (Medical
Research Council 5) and WI-38 (Wistar Institute 38). MRC5 originates from
the lung tissue taken from a 14 week male fetus aborted for "psychiatric
reasons" from a 27 year old woman in the UK in the 1970s. WI -38 originates
from a female fetus aborted for "psychiatric reasons" in the 1960s. These
abortions were not done for the purpose of producing vaccines.
Ethical objections to the use of vaccines produced from
fetal cell lines
In general, those with objections to abortion will consider any use of
material from aborted fetuses to be ethically dubious. This is not always
taken as a conclusive argument against the use of these vaccines (especially
when no alternatives are available), but it is a serious consideration
for many Roman Catholics, Muslims, and members of other religions, and
of none, who are opposed to abortion.
We consider it unethical to use vaccines from fetal cell lines for the
If abortion is immoral then profiting from it must also be immoral.
The unborn child was unable to give consent for its body parts to be used,
so it is therefore disrespectful to the dead. This is different from an
adult donating a body part such as a kidney (as one vaccine manufacturer
claimed) because the adult must always have given consent.
Some would argue that the fetal tissues would just go to waste if they
were not used but this excuse was not accepted at the Nuremberg trials
of scientists who used body parts from concentration camp victims. This
abuse of the child's body only compounds the injustice of the original
abortion, even if the vaccine producers were in no way connected to the
Use of this vaccine implies acceptance of the legality of abortion, and
does nothing to discourage the use of fetal parts or cell lines in vaccine
manufacture or other branches of medicine, or to encourage research into
We believe it would be wrong to give our children a vaccine which we would
not use on ourselves when they are too young to decide for themselves.
We have taught them that abortion is wrong it would therefore be inconsistent
to give them the vaccine.
Some people do not consider the manufacture of vaccines from animals to
be ethical. Such people will not be able to accept any viral vaccine, since
a virus has to be grown on living cells. However we do not take this view.
Vaccines for viral diseases need to be grown on living cells. Cell lines
are often used. This involves taking cells from an animal or aborted baby
and growing them for many generations in a laboratory. Viral infections
for which vaccines are available include Measles, Mumps, Rubella (German
measles) Rabies, Hepatitis A, Yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and influenza.
Vaccine production for bacterial infections does not involve cell lines,
human or animal. Bacterial infections for which vaccines are given include
Whooping Cough, Tetanus, Diphtheria,Typhoid, Tuberculosis and HIB.
The meningitis vaccine being given to
students is against meningoccocal strain C. This is a bacterial infection
and therfore is not grown on human or animal cell lines.
Vaccines made from fetal cells
The following list of vaccines licensed and commonly used in the UK are
derived from fetal cell lines. See also US
||Cell lines (Human fetal)
|Wellcome, Medeva |
|MMR II (Rubella component)
||Pasteur Merieux MSD (RA27/3 strain)
|Meales Mumps Rubella (Priorix)
|Rabies (HDCV) (Imovax)
|Hepatitis A (Havarix)
|Hepatitis A (Avaxim)
I have found alternative vaccines for the following childhood and travel
immunisations which are made from animal cell lines which we consider to
be ethical. This list does not include all ethical vaccines in the world
but only those from companies frequently used in the UK. The alternatives
L= licensed UL=Unlicensed in the UK
||Source of cell line
||Merck Sharp & Dohme
|Measles (Masern-Impfstoff SSW)
|Mumps (Mumpsvax) UL
[Jeryl Lynn strain]
||Kitasato Institute, Japan
|Rabies (RVA) UL
(Only available in the US)
|Rabies (Rab Avert) (PCEC) UL
||Chiron Berhing GmbH & Co.
|Hepatitis A (Aimmugen) UL
||Chemo-sero-therapeutic Institute, Japan
|Yellow Fever (only vaccine licensed) L
|Japanese Encephalitis (JE-Vax) UL
|Influenza all brands L
||Wyeth labs, Pasteur-Merieux, SmithKline Beecham, Evans Solvay Healthcare
Note that the Kitasato Institute rubella vaccine is not licensed for use
in the UK at present. It is only Japan which uses animal cell lines for
rubella vaccine. All other vaccines in the world use fetal cell lines.
The Kitasato Institute has kindly agreed to supply their vaccine. They
have made it clear that no compensation is available outside Japan for
any side effects as a result of the vaccine in line with Japanese law.
Your doctor can obtain this vaccine by contacting IDIS World medicines
IDIS have recieved permission to import this vaccine by the medical
control agency after a doctor from our campaign persauded them of the saftey
and effectiveness of this vaccine.
Your doctor must agree to take responsibility for injecting the vaccine
and must sign that he will make no claim against the Kitasato Institute.
The vaccine must not be passed on to a third party. As an unlicensed vaccine
it is only available on a named patient basis. This vaccine gives 98.9%
immunity. Side effects are rare and usually mild. They include joint pain,
swelling of the lymph glands or a rash. These disappear in a few days.
There have been reports of serious allergic reactions at around 1 in 100,000
cases. This is probably due to gelatin allergy. In the fifteen years up
to 1996 (the latest time from which evidence is available) no serious complications
Full details of the vaccine are are available from IDIS or from us.
We can also supply sample patient consent forms for doctors.
for obtaining rubella vaccine
We have become aware that there is a treatment available to non-immune
women unfortunate enough to come in contact with rubella during pregnancy.
A handicapped baby or abortion are not the only options. This is called
Rubegam IM and is available from Natal Bioproducts Institute. The manufacturers
state "rubella immunoglobulin may afford some protection against congenital
rubella when used in pregnant patients who in the first few in the first
few months of pregnancy will not consider termination of pregnancy." It
is appalling that this seems to be offered as a last line of defense only
after a woman has considered abortion and is not initially offered to all
women at risk. Obviously the possibility that handicap could be avoided
would effect the mothers decision on whether to have an abortion. On the
dozens of internet pages devoted to rubella this treatment seems to be
either unheard of or ignored. Only two sites apart from the SAEPI site
mention it. The Merck manual states " Women exposed to rubella early in
pregnancy should be informed about the potential risks to the fetus, and
termination of pregnancy should be considered. Some authorities recommend
administration of immune globulin (0.55ml/Kg) for exposure early in pregnancy.?
Another site Anti viral therapy states ?Passive immunisation with anti-rubella
immunoglobulin is used in rare instances when therapeutic abortion is unacceptable
and fetal monitoring is possible." Many sites consider congenital rubella
syndrome to be the inevitable consequence of not receiving a vaccine. Although
the effectiveness of rubella immunoglobulin is doubted by some authorities
it must be worth trying. Also only 20-25 % of babies whose mothers contract
rubella are effected in any way and some cases are very mild and treatable.
It seems that abortion is recommended when mothers contract rubella even
if four out of five babies are totally healthy. Rubella immunoglobulin
does not appear to be available in the UK.
It is vital that women keep their immunity up to date with vaccination
to avoid the risks. We would hope considering the importance of the vaccine
that GPs and medical authorities would co-operate fully with requests for
the alternative animal cell line rubella vaccine from Japan.
The rabies vaccine used in the UK is immovax (HDCV human diploid cell vaccine)
produced by Pasteur Merieux from MRC5. This is also the most widely used
rabies vaccine in the USA. However also licensed by the FDA (Federal Drugs
Administration) are another human diploid vaccine DCO, a vaccine from a
cell line of fetal rhesus monkeys (above) and a vaccine grown on chick
embryo cells (PCEC). It should be noted that the human protein remaining
in the HDCV even after purification has been shown to produce an allergic
reaction due to an interaction with one of the other components in 6% of
patients (reference Michigan department of health). Therefore pre-exposure
doses of this vaccine are limited despite the necessity of keeping immunity
up in those at risk. PCEC also contains trace elements of human protein
which have been reported to have produced allergic reactions. PCEC is also
cheaper and easier to produce than HDCV according to the FDA.
Use of unlicensed vaccines
It is possible to use unlicensed vaccines in the UK with the agreement
of your doctor (and probably his/her insurers). It is up to you and your
doctor to access any risk and take responsibility for using them.
However in 1999 the government wrote to chemists and drug importers
forbidding them from importing any alternatives to MMR except in special
circumstances. They did allow children who had started to finnish
the course. Many parents have gone to France in order to start the
course. It is now difficult to find a GP who will administer the single
doses of measles,mumps and rubella. There are a few doctors throughout
the UK who have managed to get supplies and are willing to administer them.
These are mainly private clinics.The vaccines that these clinics supply
may not be the ethical ones . I am currently trying to come to an agreement
arrange for a London based clinic to agree to import Rouvax, mumpsvax and
Rubella Takahasi strain on request.
The vaccines we have listed, apart from the Japanese rubella vaccine,
are from countries and companies frequently used and trusted in the UK.
We have suggested licensed products where possible unfortunately there
are no licensed alternatives for rubella, Hepatitis A and rabies.
Lack of Government action
The Government had been aware that many people are opposed to vaccines
from fetal cell lines since 1993 when MP Ann Winterton MP put down a Parliamentary
Question on the subject. This was answered by Tom Sackville. He gave no
new information, ruled out the labelling of vaccines produced from fetal
cell lines and stated "that a switch to the use of other materials would
cause major supply problems, probably for many years and the production
of rubella and hepatitis A vaccines would cease". He made no commitment
to encourage research into other materials or consider whether an ethical
vaccine could be obtained abroad.
Although this information was not publicised widely until it became
of general interest due to the Government's mass MMR immunisation campaign
in 1994, the Government had been made aware of the problem over a year
earlier and should have anticipated pro-life objections and investigated
other vaccines, especially since there is no ethical objection to the measles
component of the vaccine. Our child received the measles only injection
and some Catholic schools provided only the measles inoculation rather
than the MMR.
We understand that due to the concern expressed at the time of the measles
campaign Sir Kenneth Calman the Chief medical officer agreed to ask the
pharmaceutical companies to investigate alternative cell lines for Rubella
vaccine production but received no interest from the companies who consider
the current vaccine to be effective and relatively free from side effects.
They are presently under little financial pressure to change from using
fetal cell lines.
I hope by publishing which vaccines are made from fetal lines and making
people aware that there are alternatives the companies can be encouraged
to use animal cell lines in future vaccine development and even change
present vaccine production to animal cell lines if there is enough consumer
pressure. As can be seen from the above list the drug manufacturers who
make vaccines from animal cells lines also make other vaccines from human
fetal cell lines. There are no all good and all bad companies. If people
request the animal cell lines and tell the companies why they do not wish
to use the human fetal cell lines it is possible that one company could
be persuaded that there was mileage to be made out of switching to all
animal cell lines. We would be delighted to publicise any company that
chose to take a moral line on this.
I would also like to add that spokesmen for the Roman Catholic church
only said that use of the vaccine could be considered the lesser evil on
the basis that there were no alternatives available, and in the light of
exaggerated government predictions of a huge measles epidemic. I am sure
that now a suitable alternative has become available they will reconsider
their statements on the MMR vaccine.
The informaton in this article is now as up to date as I can make it,
but I will try to update it as neccessary. The information comes from a
variety of sources and I can not guarantee that it is correct, or has not
changed. You should check the suitability of vaccines with your own doctor
and supplier. I would welcome any assistance in keeping this list up to
date. Please E-mail me if you have trouble obtaining any of the vaccines.
I would be pleased to include any comments or corrections from drug companies.
When sending E mails please state what country you are writting from
so that we can give the correct information.
last updated 8 October 2002
* New links providing evidence
of the use of aborted babies in vaccine manufacture.
For obtaining rubella, measles, mumps vaccines ...
IDIS World Medicines, Millbank House, 171-185 Ewell Road, Surbiton,
Surrey KT6, 6AX United Kingdom 0181410070
for information on the abortions which produced the MRC5 and WI-38
cell lines ...
Letter from C .Bolwell Product information Associate, International
*The Wellcome Foundation. letter
*Also letter from Tom Sackville MP to
Anne Winterton MP, January 1993 letter
department of Health
For information on currently available licensed vaccines ...
ABPI data sheet compendium published by Datapharm publications
12 Whitehall place London.
Parliamentary questions house of Commons
For information on the cell lines used in their vaccines.
Personal communication with the following companies...
*Medeva International, Langhurst, Horsham,
Smithkline Beecham Mundells, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire,
Pasteur Merieux MSD Clivemont House, Clivemont Rd , Maidenhead, England.
Connaught USA, Web site
The Kitasato Institute Research Center for Biologicals, 6-111 Arai,
Kitamoto-city, Saitama 364 Japan.
For information on vaccines available around the world ...
department of Health web site
For information on cell lines in various vaccines ...
African electronic products inserts.
For information on available rabbies vaccines...
Chiron Web site
and Mortality weekly report Jan 16 1998
For information on Hepititis vaccines ...
ABPI data files compendium
African electronic products index Havarix
Sharp and Dohme web site Vaqta hepatitis A vaccine
Rubella immunoglobulin ...
comming soon Canadian information
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