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Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman April 22, 2019

No, anti-vaccination meme is way off on vaccine testing

As one of the largest outbreaks of measles spreads throughout the United States, an uptick in anti-vaccination claims also appear to be spreading on social media.

As of April 11, there have been 555 cases of measles confirmed in 20 states, up from 465 in 19 states at last count. It is the second-highest number of cases reported in the United States since measles was eliminated in 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Now, another anti-vaccine claim has surfaced on Facebook on a page called, which describes itself as an "alternative and holistic health service."

The post reads: "Think combined doses of vaccines have been tested? They haven’t. Not once. EVER. Our children deserve better."

The post, which provides no details or evidence, has been shared over 600 times since April 15 and was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Let’s cut to the chase: The claim is false – all vaccines are tested for years before and after being made available to the public, including "combined doses."

We reached out to Daniel Salmon, director of the Institute For Vaccine Safety at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, on the veracity of the claim.

"This is not a true statement," he told us in an email.

Salmon pointed us to a December 2008 document from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The review covered federal vaccine safety programs and public health activities." The summary begins:

The evaluation of safety for vaccines is conducted through a network of diverse, yet integrated activities that cuts across Federal agency responsibilities and includes the private sector and academic investigators. The development, licensure and widespread use of a vaccine involves activities and programs from a broad range of groups, including State health departments, academia, industry, healthcare providers, professional organizations, third party payers, managed care organizations, philanthropic and service organizations, and agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) in the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

According to Health and Human Services vaccine safety page, which is coordinated by the National Vaccine Program Office (NVPO), every licensed and recommended vaccine goes through years of safety testing. This includes testing and evaluation before the vaccine is licensed and recommended, as well as monitoring after it is recommended for the public.

"Before a vaccine is ever recommended for use it’s tested in labs. This process can take several years. FDA uses the information from these tests to decide whether to test the vaccine with people," the page says. "During a clinical trial, a vaccine is tested on people who volunteer to get vaccinated. Clinical trials start with 20 to 100 volunteers, but eventually include thousands of volunteers."

The CDC’s multiple vaccines information page reports that data shows getting several vaccines at the same time does not cause any chronic health problems.

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"A number of studies have been done to look at the effects of giving various combinations of vaccines," the CDC says, "and when every new vaccine is licensed, it has been tested along with the vaccines already recommended for a particular aged child."

Several of these clinical trial tests are available for review via the US National Library of Medicine. Here is a handful on combination vaccine doses:

Meningococcal C conjugate vaccine with all infant vaccines (2002)

7VPnC with a combination DTaP-IPV-Hib vaccine (2003)

Hexavalent with Hepatitis A (2006)

MMR-V with Hib/HepB (2006)

Hexavalent vaccine with PRV vaccine (2009)

PCV-13 with infant vaccines (2010)

PHiD-CV and MMRV vaccine (2010)

HepA vaccine with MMRV vaccine (2011)  

Gardasil with Menactra and Adacel (2011)

VAQTA with/without administration of other US pediatric vaccines (2018)

Our ruling

A post on Facebook claims that "combined doses of vaccines" have never been tested.

The testing of vaccines, both singularly administered and given in conjunction with other vaccines, is a well-documented, years-long process that is critical for vaccine approval across the world.

We rate this post Pants on Fire!

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PolitiFact rating logo PolitiFact Rating:
Pants on Fire
Says "combined doses of vaccines" have never been tested.
Monday, April 15, 2019

Our Sources

Facebook post, April 15, 2019

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Vaccine Safety, Accessed April 17, 2019

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Multiple Vaccines and the Immune System, Accessed April 18, 2019

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Combination Vaccines, May 2017

PubMed, US National Library of Medicine, Various clinical trial and studies on combination vaccine safety, Accessed April 17, 2019 by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Vaccine Safety: Examine the Evidence, July 24, 2018

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Journey of Your Child's Vaccine, Accessed April 18, 2019

Oxford Vaccine Group, Combination vaccines and multiple vaccinations, March 26, 2018

PubMed, US National Library of Medicine, Association Between Estimated Cumulative Vaccine Antigen Exposure and Non-Vaccine-Targeted Infections, March 6, 2018

Email interview, Daniel Salmon director at the Institute For Vaccine Safety, April 18, 2019

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No, anti-vaccination meme is way off on vaccine testing

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