Can People Receiving Live Virus Vaccines Transmit Vaccine Strain Virus to Others?

Story at-a-glance -

  • Live attenuated viral vaccines fool your immune system into believing you’ve come into contact with a real virus to stimulate an antibody response
  • When you get a live attenuated viral vaccine, you shed live vaccine strain virus in your body fluids—just like when you get a viral infection and shed virus in your body fluids
  • After getting a live virus vaccine, you can shed and transmit vaccine strain virus to other people
  • Live attenuated viral vaccines have the potential to affect the evolution of viruses, which are constantly recombining with each other, because vaccine strain live viruses are released into the environment where further mutations can occur
  • A healthy immune system is the most powerful way to resist infectious diseases or heal after infection and the efficient functioning of your immune system is dependent on healthy gut flora

By Dr. Mercola

There’s currently a great concern about Ebola, and this provides us an opportunity to investigate some basic vaccine questions. The first person diagnosed with Ebola in the US contracted it while visiting relatives in Africa. He recently died, and transmitted the disease to two nurses at a Dallas community hospital, who took care of him.

Both nurses have recovered and have been declared free of infection. That’s a good sign that tells us Ebola is in fact very survivable if caught and treated early.

But there’s still plenty of fear to go around, and it’s quite clear that this is something multinational drug companies are taking advantage of to fast-track an Ebola vaccine to licensure.

When pharmaceutical companies develop a new experimental drug, there’s the possibility it might kill people. When that happens, the families of those who die have the legal right to sue companies in civil court for damages.

But when drug companies develop bioterrorism and pandemic influenza vaccines, or vaccines that are recommended by the CDC for universal use by children or adults, that is not the case.

Congress in 1986 and the U.S. Supreme Court in 2011 have banned all civil lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers when Americans are injured or die from federally recommended and state mandated vaccines.

After vaccine manufacturers were first indemnified against legal action by legislation Congress passed nearly 30 years ago, a huge incentive was created for the pharmaceutical industry to target vaccines as a market alternative to drugs. Today, new vaccine development is the fastest growing sector in the pharmaceutical industry.

There is tremendous market pressure on drug companies to produce a large number of new vaccines right now and there are experimental vaccines in the pipeline for Ebola, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), enterovirus, West Nile, dengue, cholera, and multiple types of influenza.

The Emerging Risks of Vaccines

Barbara Loe-Fisher is the co-founder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), a non-profit charity dedicated to preventing vaccine injuries and deaths through public education and defending the legal right for everyone to make vaccine choices.

She explains how you can shed live virus in body fluids whether you have a viral infection or have gotten a live attenuated viral vaccine:

“Live attenuated viral vaccines (LAV) that use live viruses try to, in essence, fool your immune system into believing that you’ve come into contact with a real virus, thereby stimulating the antibody response that, theoretically, will protect you,” she says.

“When you get these live viral vaccines, you shed live virus in your body fluids. Just like when you get a viral infection, you shed live virus. That’s how viral infections are transmitted.

Because viruses, unlike bacteria, need a living host... in order to multiply. What these viruses do is they try to disable the immune system and evade immune responses.”

Ebola is a perfect example. Ebola is a very efficient disabler of the innate (cellular) immune system as well as the humoral (learned) immune system. That’s why it’s such an efficient killer. In Africa, the mortality rate is around 50-70 percent. (In sharp contrast, Ebola patients in the US have fared very well. All but one is either recovered or on their way to recovery.)

However, there are still many things we do not fully understand about viruses and how they spread. According to Barbara, Ebola has been detected in semen for 40 days after symptoms begin and during the convalescent period. It’s one of the ways it might be transmitted. As Barbara notes in a brand new report, “The Emerging Risks of Live Virus and Viral Vectored Vaccines:”

"There is an ongoing debate among scientists about where viruses came from and how they evolved and are still evolving.1 One virologist observed that replicating and mutating viruses are the ‘world’s leading source of genetic innovation…’2

Discussing the co-evolution of viruses with humans and other living organisms, another virologist wrote in 2012 that during epidemics viruses evolve. Genetic and environmental co-factors make some individuals more or less likely to die from or survive the infection, producing an increase of the numbers of resistant individuals in the population."3

One of the dangers of any viral disease outbreak is that people often fail to realize is that you can be an asymptomatic carrier of a viral infection; so while you show no symptoms or only mild symptoms, you may still be able to transmit the virus to others. Even fewer people understand that this is also true for live virus vaccines!

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You Can Transmit Live Vaccine Strain Virus After Getting Vaccinated

Smallpox, for example, is transmitted via body fluids. And, when you get a live attenuated smallpox vaccine, which contains live attenuated vaccinia virus, you can develop vaccinia virus (VACV or VV) strain infection, which you can then transmit to others. The same is true for polio and the live oral polio vaccine (OPV).

“In the days before [polio] vaccines in this country, many people got poliovirus infection. Most did not show any symptom or only mild symptoms. Their bodies dealt with it and they were immune. During the time they had an infection, whether they were symptomatic or asymptomatic, they could transmit it.

A tiny number of people went on to have complications from poliovirus infections; they became paralyzed or died. But the majority of people got polio, went through the disease, became immune, and did not suffer an injury.

The live polio vaccine, the Sabin vaccine, which followed the inactivated Salk vaccine, was given orally [and] contains live attenuated polioviruses.

Those polioviruses, when you take that [live] vaccine, you shed them in your body fluids—your saliva, urine, and stool. Vaccine-strain viruses like disease viruses or infections can be found also sometimes in tears and vomit. This is true for the Ebola virus as well.

Whether you have the viral infection or you get the live attenuated vaccine, you shed live virus in your body fluids and you are able to transmit the virus to other people who come in contact with your body fluids. I think this is a very important thing for people to understand,” she said.

Live Virus Vaccines Have Risks — Who’s Paying Attention?

Barbara has compiled a special report, “The Emerging Risks of Live Virus and Viral Vectored Vaccines” containing over 200 references, which delves into virus shedding and vaccine virus shedding. In it, she raises valid questions about whether or not scientists, public health officials, and vaccine manufacturers truly understand the impact live attenuated viral vaccines and vaccines using viruses as vaccine vectors, have on our immune function, genetic integrity, and the environment.

Live virus vaccine shedding and transmission may also affect the evolution of viruses that infect humans and animals because vaccine strain viruses are released into the environment, where recombinations and further mutations can occur. For example, in Africa, vaccine campaigns with live oral polio vaccine have contaminated the water supply and sewers with live vaccine strain polioviruses.

“One of the reasons they’re having such a hard time eradicating polio with the use of live [polio] virus vaccine is you have a circulation and sometimes a co-circulation of both wild-type polioviruses as well as vaccine-strain polioviruses. Viruses constantly mutate. We’re shedding viruses in the environment, and they’re mutating and recombining with each other,” Barbara notes.

If we’re going to continue to use live virus vaccines, and genetically engineer these viruses and use them as vectors, shouldn’t we understand the potential long-term price on human health and animal health? Do we understand it fully? I don’t think we do.

I think that the public needs to become more educated and more involved in the kinds of policies that are being set, and the kind of science that’s being done...Because the people who are creating vaccines and profiting from them are not, in my opinion, doing a good enough job with the science and making sure that what they’re creating is not going to cause long-term health problems for humans.”

Shedding with GMO Virus-Vectored Vaccines

Among live virus vaccines being used in the U.S. and other countries are measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox (varicella zoster), live virus (nasal spray) flu vaccine, shingles vaccine, and the rotavirus vaccine that’s given to infants for diarrhea. When you or your child gets a live virus attenuated vaccine, you can shed vaccine strain live virus in your body fluids, and the vaccine strain virus could potentially be transmitted to others, in whom it might cause serious complications. Unfortunately, many doctors are not even aware of this risk. According to Barbara’s report:

“Humans and animals receiving live virus-vectored vaccines will be shedding and transmitting genetically modified vaccine strains that may pose unpredictable risks to the vaccinated, close contacts and environment. For example, vaccine developers creating an experimental AIDS vaccine by genetically engineering the live-attenuated measles virus to express a fusion protein containing HIV-1 antigens, face challenges in trying to limit shedding and transmission of infectious virus by the recently vaccinated.4

These very real risks should be thoroughly quantified before licensure and widespread use of GMO vaccines5 because the ability of vaccine strain viruses to recombine with wild-type viruses and produce new hybrid viruses with potentially serious side effects that are shed and transmitted in human and animal populations cannot be underestimated.6, 7

...Sometimes the weakened vaccine strain live virus can mutate and regain virulence, including neurovirulence, which significantly raises risks of serious complications from vaccine strain virus infection.8, 9 Healthy persons can suffer complications from vaccine strain viral infection10 but children and adults with immunodeficiency are more likely to develop complications after they receive live virus vaccines or come in close contact with a person who is shedding vaccine strain live virus.”11, 12

Vaccine Reactions Are Grossly Underreported

Drug companies making and profiting from vaccine sales are notorious for giving nothing more than lip service to safety. They conduct their own pre-licensure clinical trials and are not required to use a true placebo to prove safety. And there’s no aggressive effort to monitor for side effects. The federal government created the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), but for every person who reports an adverse effect, there may be about 100 that go unreported.

There’s gross underreporting of vaccine reactions, injuries, and deaths to VAERS, even though it’s a matter of federal law as of 1986. Any doctor or other vaccine provider who gives a vaccine is supposed to monitor the person they vaccinated, and report any subsequent injuries, hospitalization, or death to VAERS. But there’s no enforcement or penalties for failure to comply with the vaccine safety informing, reporting, and recording provisions in the 1986 law.

“What’s happening is a lot of the providers of vaccines, the doctors, are determining that when something bad happens after vaccination, it’s not the fault of the vaccine; it’s just a coincidence. You have less than 10 percent, or perhaps less than one percent of all vaccine providers actually reporting to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System,” Barbara says.

Adding insult to injury, there’s also an attempt to censor public conversation about all these vaccines that we’re using, and the hundreds of vaccines in the research pipeline – including live virus vaccines and genetically engineered viral vectored experimental vaccines for Ebola and HIV. Are we paying a much-higher price than scientists creating vaccines originally considered? Is overuse of vaccines leading to more serious health problems?

Barbara and I agree that this is one of the biggest public health issues of our time. And in light of the gaps in vaccine science, having the legal right to know and freedom to make an individual, voluntary choice about vaccination is essential.

“Vaccines not only carry a risk of injury or death from a reaction but they also can cause vaccine strain viral infection, and they also can fail to protect,” Barbara warns. “A product that cannot be guaranteed to be effective and cannot be guaranteed to be safe for everyone is not a product that should be mandated. It’s not a product that should be liability-free and have nobody accountable in the civil court of law.”

Erosion of Medical Exemptions Threatens Many People’s Health

As noted by Barbara, over the past 30 years, the number of medical exemptions has narrowed dramatically. At present, virtually everyone is a candidate for vaccination, whether you’re immune-compromised or not. Virtually no health condition qualifies anymore as a medical reason not to vaccinate or delay a vaccine. Interestingly, immune-compromised people are very efficient shedders of either viral infections or vaccine strain live viruses. The more immune-compromised you are, the more efficiently and the longer you shed virus in your body fluids.

“It’s a real puzzlement to me why the no-exemptions policy also applies to the immune-compromised, because they actually can shed the virus—either the regular virus or vaccine strain virus—for longer periods of time. They also can have serious complications from either the viral infection or live virus vaccines,” she notes. “We really need to pay attention to who we are individually and have a greater understanding of our risk with infections and our risk with vaccines.”

Some Viruses and Bacteria Are Highly Beneficial for Health

It’s well worth noting that viruses and bacteria actually contribute to the healthy functioning of your body—a fact that many in our antibacterial-obsessed society still haven’t fully grasped. As noted in her special report:

“Most people fear and view viruses as dangerous microbes that only cause sickness and death. However, emerging evidence has revealed that viruses play an integral role in helping us stay well, too. Healthy infants experience many different kinds of wild-type viral infections and shed virus without showing any clinical symptoms of illness. In addition to the protection they receive from maternal antibodies, viruses help the infant’s immune system develop and gives them early protection against more serious viral infections in infancy and later in life…13 14, 15

According to scientists discussing the ‘hygiene hypothesis,’ increased sanitation and public health interventions in modern societies have reduced the diversity of early experiences with viral and bacterial infections among infants and children and one negative outcome has been an increase in autoimmune and allergic diseases.16 They suggest that some infectious microbes, especially those that have co-evolved with humans, protect against a wide spectrum of immune-related disorders."17

Your body contains about 100 trillion bacteria, and bacteriophages (viral components) outnumber the bacteria by 10 to one. All of these bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms make up your body’s microbiome. Barbara’s report points out that while we commonly view all viruses as “bad,” this is really not the case. Some viruses, known as bacteriophages, appear to promote health by infecting and killing bacteria that might otherwise cause disease:

“As one group of European scientists wrote in 2006, ‘The role of bacteriophages in protecting against pathogenic microorganisms and controlling bacterial flora in the human organism is of major significance.’”18

There’s a broad and compelling scientific base of evidence showing that a healthy human immune system is the most powerful way to resist infectious diseases or heal after infection and the efficient functioning of your immune system is dependent on health gut flora. About 80 percent of your immune system is in your microbiome. Hence, the obvious conclusion is that in order to maintain health and/or successfully recover from infections without serious complications, you need to optimize the functioning of your immune system. In her report, Barbara notes:

“Viruses and bacteria always present in the body are constantly interacting with each other in a complex and dynamic process from infancy through adulthood.19 In 2012 a consortium of scientists analyzing the structure, function and diversity of the human microbiome confirmed that biodiversity and the uniqueness of each individual human being is important to individual and human health.

They found that the microbiomes of ‘even healthy individuals differ remarkably’ and that “much of this diversity remains unexplained, although diet, environment, host genetics and early microbial exposure have all been implicated.”
20 Why some people get sick and develop complications from infectious diseases while others do not has a lot to do with individual differences and microbiome diversity appears to be a big part of the puzzle.”

The Importance of Robust Immune Function

Eating a high-sugar diet is one of the most harmful things you can do to your immune system, as it kills beneficial bacteria and feeds pathogenic microbes that promote disease. Vitamin D deficiency is another important factor that can severely depress your immune function. If you’re eating a healthy diet low in sugar and high in probiotics, and getting sensible sunlight exposure to optimize your vitamin D level, that’s likely to help you resist infection and stay healthier than simply getting vaccinated. There’s really no comparison because by doing the former you will naturally activate your body’s own intrinsic immune system.

Several Ebola patients treated in the US have received ZMapp, which is not a drug in the conventional sense. It’s a passive antibody that works by reducing viral replication so your own immune system has enough time to come in and kill the virus without setting off a cytokine storm—which is what causes the lethal hemorrhaging. ZMapp actually demonstrates that what really works is your own immune system, not some external pill or vaccine.

“The blood of the Ebola survivors is now being viewed like gold because there was a natural immune response. Those antibodies are superior in quality to vaccine-acquired antibodies. I think this is a really important concept that everybody needs to understand. Naturally acquired antibodies are superior in quality to vaccine-acquired antibodies. That’s why the blood of [the missionary who recovered from ebola] was used with some of the others who were infected... He was able to give those antibodies to them through his blood,” Barbara says.

How Do Vaccines Affect Human Immune Function Long-Term?

Illogically, we’ve traded longer lasting naturally acquired immunity for a temporary, artificial vaccine acquired immunity against an entire array of infectious diseases—most of which never led to mass casualties in the first place. In the last 30 years, the US has tripled the number of vaccines given to infants and children during their most critical period of development—the first three years of life. Could the ramifications of this be reflected in the current abysmal chronic disease and disability statistics in the U.S.?

“We do not understand the impact we’ve had on the immune function of several generations of children, whose immune systems have been atypically manipulated over and over again with inactivated bacterial vaccines and live virus vaccines,” Barbara says. “We don’t know the impact on their epigenetics, on their DNA, and on their immune function.”

Along with microbiome science, we’ve also seen advances in epigenetic science. These are brand-new frontiers in scientific knowledge, and what scientists are finding is that we do not understand the complexity of the immune system or the complexity of the human body as a whole... The idea that vaccines are the “obvious answer” to every health problem is undoubtedly driven by ideology and profit-making and not in consideration of a full spectrum of scientific knowledge.

Maintaining control over public health policy and protecting the financial status quo for vaccine developers is probably a big reason why the pharmaceutical industry, public health officials and medical trade groups are working overtime to censor or dismiss vaccine safety discussions rather than face legitimate questions head on, and pursue the unbiased scientific research that is needed to clarify the impact of our current reliance on vaccines.

“We’re going through a really rough time,” Barbara says. “The pressure is on and the alliance among the medical trade associations, the pharmaceutical companies, the public health officials, government public health officials, is a very powerful lobby. They are trying to take away [vaccine] exemptions. They restricted the vaccine exemptions in Washington State, Oregon, and California. We held the line in Colorado this year. We held the line in Vermont to a great extent. But they’re going into other states this year.”

It’s Time to Show Up and Speak Out...

At this juncture, it’s really important that people show up when public hearings are held and when legislation is introduced. You need to take action and contact your elected officials whenever the opportunity arises. The NVIC Advocacy Portal (NVICAP) at provides real-time information via email when legislation is moving in your state that might take away exemptions. So please, take a moment to sign up to be a user of this free online communications and networking tool that can help you become an effective vaccine choice advocate in your state and contact your own legislators to make your voice heard.

“We’re seeing a tightening of the rope around the neck of the people,” Barbara warns. “We’re seeing people who are being fired from jobs – healthcare workers – if they don’t get an annual flu shot. The childcare workers are the next on the list to be tracked and threatened with unemployment if they don’t get all the vaccines. They’re talking about the airline industry, the food service industry, and the teachers. I always say, ‘You’re not yet perhaps on that list, but you will be on that list – everyone will be on the list.’ This is a long-term goal: 100 percent vaccination rate with full government recommendation on vaccines – no exemptions.”

That’s a scary thing to consider. But we can turn this around if enough of us venture out into our communities and reach out to our elected officials. It’s up to us to participate in the democratic process and change the laws that we don’t like. Knowledge is power, so you have to educate yourself. And we have to change the laws to allow for freedom to make health choices, including vaccine choices.

The NVIC Advocacy Portal is a great tool that can help you get involved. Just being fretful and saying, “I can’t believe it,” isn’t really going to accomplish anything. To make a difference, you have to participate in the process. And you can. It’s important to realize that it doesn’t take a majority of people to make a difference on this. It just takes a motivated group of people who really know the truth and who are willing to share it with others.

“I think that 2015 and 2016 are going to be the years where this issue is going to be decided in America. Are we going to be forced to use every single government-recommended vaccine and not be able to function as a society? Or are we going to be free to make independent, informed vaccine choices, and by extension, health choices, choose how we want to stay healthy? It’s up to the people. We can only show them the way, but we can’t do it for them,” Barbara says.

+ Sources and References