They said they had removed Mercury (Thimerosal) from their vaccines but they did not!
Q: Is it true that all the mercury has been removed from vaccines? How much mercury is in the flu shot and other recommended vaccines? Should I go out of my way to find a thimerosal-free flu shot and where can I find one?
A: Even though most of the vaccines routinely administered to infants in the United States no longer contain more than trace amounts of ethyl mercury in the form of Thimerosal, the entire vaccine supply is not Thimerosal-free. The most notable exception to this is the seasonal influenza (flu) vaccine. Most, but not all, influenza vaccine still contains Thimerosal. Notably, many vaccines used in third world countries are mercury containing and exceed safety guidelines established in the United States.
Information on vaccines that contain significant amounts of Thimerosal can also be found on the Food and Drug Administration’s website and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Institute for Vaccine Safety website.
Manufacturers began voluntarily removing Thimerosal from pediatric vaccines around 2000. It is assumed that most pediatric vaccines containing Thimerosal were “off the shelves” by 2003. (No vaccines were recalled.) Even so, most infants are still routinely given Thimerosal-containing influenza vaccine even though there are Thimerosal-free and vaccines with trace amounts of Thimerosal. Infants receiving a Thimerosal-containing influenza vaccine are dosed at 6 months with 12.5 mcg of ethyl mercury and at 7 months with an additional 12.5 mcg. Adult Thimerosal-containing vaccines contain roughly 25mcg. These Thimerosal-containing version exceed federal safety guidelines mentioned earlier. For more information, you can review a special write-up on the NVIC website, titled “Aluminum and Vaccine Ingredients: What Do We Know? What Don’t We Know?“
Depending on the vaccines administered, at six months of age, infants today born to mothers who received flu vaccine during pregnancy could receive up to 71 mcg of ethyl mercury compared to 187.5 mcg prior to efforts to decrease the amount of thimerosal in infant vaccines. Additionally, the CDC guidelines recommend that all children receive an annual influenza vaccine beginning at 6 months of age. As a result, the total amount of thimerosal given to children under 5 years of age is almost what it was prior to 2000.
There are other sources of mercury exposure in infants. Specifically, it should be recognized that influenza vaccine recommended for pregnant women and some rhogam preparations contain ethyl mercury in the form of thimerosal. Total mercury burden include other sources including dental amalgams (silver fillings), food especially some types of fish, and air pollution from coal-fired power plants and wildfires.
Concerns regarding mercury in vaccines were addressed in a letter published by the Journal Pediatrics on March 13, 2008 (update 3/17/2016: letter is no longer available online). As noted in the letter, parents and pregnant women may want to consider the following data and make an informed decision.
- 0.5 parts per billion (ppb) mercury = Kills human neuroblastoma cells (Parran et al., Toxicol Sci 2005; 86: 132-140).
- 2 ppb mercury = U.S. EPA limit for drinking water.
- 20 ppb mercury = Neurite membrane structure destroyed (Leong et al., Neuroreport 2001; 12: 733-37).
- 200 ppb mercury = level in liquid the EPA classifies as hazardous waste.
- 25,000 ppb mercury = Concentration of mercury in the Hepatitis B vaccine, administered at birth in the U.S., from 1990-2001.
- 50,000 ppb Mercury = Concentration of mercury in multi-dose DTaP and Haemophilus B vaccine vials, administered 4 times each in the 1990’s to children at 2, 4, 6, 12 and 18 months of age.
- 50,000 ppb Mercury = Current “preservative” level mercury in multi-dose flu (94% of supply), meningococcal and tetanus (7 and older) vaccines. This can be confirmed by simply analyzing the multi- dose vials.
NVIC does not maintain a list of places that stock mercury-free flu shots, as availability and locations differ from state to state. We recommend that you call doctor’s offices, public health clinics, pharmacies or your state’s health department for this information.
They (CDC) say Thimerosal in Vaccines is Safe, except it is not!
Questions and Concerns
Thimerosal is a mercury-based preservative that has been used for decades in the United States in multi-dose vials (vials containing more than one dose) of medicines and vaccines. There is no evidence of harm caused by the low doses of thimerosal in vaccines, except for minor reactions like redness and swelling at the injection site. However, in July 1999, the Public Health Service agencies, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and vaccine manufacturers agreed that thimerosal should be reduced or eliminated in vaccines as a precautionary measure.
Mercury is a naturally occurring element found in the earth’s crust, air, soil, and water. Two types of mercury to which people may be exposed — methylmercury and ethylmercury — are very different.
Methylmercury is the type of mercury found in certain kinds of fish. At high exposure levels methylmercury can be toxic to people. In the United States, federal guidelines keep as much methylmercury as possible out of the environment and food, but over a lifetime, everyone is exposed to some methylmercury.
Thimerosal contains ethylmercury, which is cleared from the human body more quickly than methylmercury, and is therefore less likely to cause any harm.
Thimerosal prevents the growth of bacteria in vaccines.
Thimerosal is added to vials of vaccine that contain more than one dose (multi-dose vials) to prevent growth of germs, like bacteria and fungi. Introduction of bacteria and fungi has the potential to occur when a syringe needle enters a vial as a vaccine is being prepared for administration. Contamination by germs in a vaccine could cause severe local reactions, serious illness or death. In some vaccines, preservatives, including thimerosal, are added during the manufacturing process to prevent germ growth.
The human body eliminates thimerosal easily.
Thimerosal does not stay in the body a long time so it does not build up and reach harmful levels. When thimerosal enters the body, it breaks down to ethylmercury and thiosalicylate, which are readily eliminated.
Thimerosal has been shown to be safe when used in vaccines.
Thimerosal use in medical products has a record of being very safe. Data from many studies show no evidence of harm caused by the low doses of thimerosal in vaccines.
There are some side effects of thimerosal in vaccines.
The most common side-effects are minor reactions like redness and swelling at the injection site. Although rare, some people may be allergic to thimerosal.
Scientific research does not show a connection between thimerosal and autism.
Research does not show any link between thimerosal in vaccines and autism, a neurodevelopmental disorder. Many well conducted studies have concluded that thimerosal in vaccines does not contribute to the development of autism. Even after thimerosal was removed from almost all childhood vaccines, autism rates continued to increase, which is the opposite of what would be expected if thimerosal caused autism.
Thimerosal was taken out of childhood vaccines in the United States in 2001.
Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccines do not and never did contain thimerosal. Varicella (chickenpox), inactivated polio (IPV), and pneumococcal conjugate vaccines have also never contained thimerosal.
Influenza (flu) vaccines are currently available in both thimerosal-containing (for multi-dose vaccine vials) and thimerosal-free versions.
For a complete list of vaccines and their thimerosal content level, see the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Thimerosal in Vaccinesexternal icon page. This chart pdf icon[PDF – 4 pages] shows vaccine ingredients sorted by vaccine.