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Chinoy Medic Dr. Phil Tan-Gatue Answers 3 Common Vaccine Myths

Since the COVID-19 vaccines have started gaining more attention in recent months, I have been hearing old questions about vaccines resurface. Questions like, “Do vaccines cause one to get autism?” and “Weren’t the COVID-19 vaccines developed too fast?” have pervaded social media. Such questions give some folks second thoughts on whether they ought to get vaccinated or not.

Dr. Philip Tan-Gatue, an alumnus of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine and a certificate holder from the Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, answered those very questions in an online event, COVID in Children & COVID-19 Vaccines, organized by the Alumni Association of Xavier School. 

As a proud Xavier alumnus myself, I’m proud to share what Dr. Tan-Gatue, a co-alumnus and a dear relative of mine, talked about. At the event, he discussed some common myths about vaccines and debunks them. 


Myth #1: Vaccines cause autism. 

“Why are vaccines such a hot topic? Because there are many myths that go about,” said Dr. Tan-Gatue.

In the late 1990s, former physician Andrew Wakefield was the lead author in publishing a paper that claimed that vaccines — specifically the Mumps Measles Rubella (MMR) vaccine — cause autism. This study was published in The Lancet, a peer-reviewed medical journal. The paper stated that, according to the parents of eight of twelve children who were studied, within two weeks of being given an MMR vaccination, the children experienced negative symptoms linked to behavior. 

Truth: It’s false. The paper has since been retracted. 

The British General Medical Council found that Wakefield was dishonest in his research. Unfortunately, the damage has been done. Until today, claims from this retracted paper are still being used. 


Myth #2: Vaccines are toxic. Some may have additives. 

Some claim that because vaccines contain ingredients like formaldehyde, which, according to the American Cancer Society, is a “colorless, strong-smelling gas used in making building materials and many household products.” Further, the presence of mercury can cause irritation and chemical burns when touched perpetuates the myth.

Truth: Though vaccines do contain chemicals such as these, they are safe.

Here’s why: these ingredients in vaccines are not enough to damage the human body. In the case of formaldehyde, for example, Tan-Gatue pointed out that our own bodies produce it. In fact, our bodies produce it at higher rates than compared to the amount in vaccines. 

“Formaldehyde is produced at higher rates than are present in vaccines by our own metabolic systems. If a little bit of formaldehyde in a vaccine is enough to cause you harm, then we would’ve been sick a long time ago by the minimal amount of formaldehyde in our own bodies,” he said.

The element mercury. Image from

Another good way to look at it: salt is made of sodium and chloride, both toxic. But human beings cannot survive without salt. The sodium and chloride are no longer just sodium and chloride because they have become something completely new: sodium chloride.


Myth #3: The COVID-19 vaccines were developed too fast. 

A third myth that Tan-Gatue brought up was the myth that the COVID-19 vaccines were developed too quickly. A lot of people would rather wait and see before getting vaccinated just in case. 

Truth: The COVID-19 vaccines were developed fast because the virus was identified early, not because of negligence or haste. 

“The first COVID-19 patients were documented around December 26 (2019) in Wuhan, China. The virus sample was submitted to Wuhan CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) by December 30. By January 7, we had the viral sequence. So, with that, it was easy to make the vaccine,” noted Tan-Gatue. 

Being involved in a WHO Solidarity Trial, Tan-Gatue noted that the process involved in the studies and trials are mostly the same, and all side effects are noted. 


With this, I hope a lot of things are cleared up. Let’s all be informed and spread the right information.


The author of this article: 

An accomplished young Chinese Filipino writer and media personality, Aaron S. Medina is associated with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Ateneo de Manila University Chinese Studies Program, the Philippine Association for Chinese Studies, and CHiNOY TV. He has a passion for truth, justice, and Pokémon, too! Follow him on Facebook:


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