Subject: [Chem Trail Tracking USA] U.S. Won't Alert Parents, Doctors
on Mercury in Flu Shots for Kids
U.S. Won't Alert Parents, Doctors on Mercury in Flu Shots for
The CDC says it sees no harm in the preservative thimerosal.
Advocacy groups attack its stance.
By Myron Levin, Times Staff
Hundreds of thousands of infants and toddlers who get flu shots
starting this fall could be exposed to a mercury-laced preservative that
has been all but eliminated from other pediatric vaccines because of health
Saying there is no proof of harm from exposure to the
preservative thimerosal, officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention have confirmed that they won't advise parents and doctors
to choose a mercury-free version of the flu vaccine.
This year, flu
shots are being added to the government's "recommend" list of vaccines that
should be given to all young children. The CDC's decision on thimerosal,
made despite pleas from parent activist groups and some experts, appears to
be at odds with recent federal warnings about exposure to mercury, a potent
neurotoxin, and with the government's successful effort to have it removed
from other childhood vaccines.
The mercury-free flu vaccine will be
more expensive — by about $4 per shot — and is somewhat harder to make in
large quantities than the alternative. If the CDC were to warn parents,
demand for thimerosal-free shots would rise, possibly squeezing supplies.
Some experts said a shortage could lead to some children not being immunized
against a known risk, flu, in order to avoid the theoretical risk of
"The available scientific evidence has not shown
thimerosal-containing vaccines to be harmful," the CDC said.
American Academy of Pediatrics, which has a membership of 57,000 physicians,
is backing the CDC.
But the agency has come under blistering attack from
some parent groups. By not advising parents and physicians, the government
is "violating the precautionary principle which reminds doctors that,
when in doubt, take an action which minimizes the risk of harm," said
Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder of the National Vaccine Information
Center, a parent-led group that promotes safer vaccines.
Weldon (R-Fla.) said he planned to introduce a bill to ban thimerosal in
childhood vaccines. The CDC's refusal to recommend mercury-free shots "is
medical malpractice," Weldon said. A physician with a young son, he said he
wouldn't let the child have a shot containing mercury.
are used by drug companies to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi in
vaccines. Thimerosal, which is nearly 50% ethyl mercury, had long been the
preservative of choice. That changed in 1999, when the U.S. Public Health
Service and the academy of pediatrics called on drug firms to voluntarily
remove thimerosal from pediatric vaccines as a precaution.
so, they acknowledged a major oversight: Under the country's increasingly
aggressive policy of childhood immunizations, infants were being repeatedly
exposed to mercury in cumulative doses far above Environmental Protection
Since then, vaccine producers have virtually
eliminated thimerosal from regularly scheduled childhood
Some parent groups and researchers believe that thimerosal has
contributed to a sharp increase in reported rates of autism and other
developmental disorders in children. Nearly 4,000 compensation claims
have been filed in a special vaccine injury branch of the U.S. Court of
Claims on behalf of children with autism-related disorders.
makers and many scientists dispute the connection, contending, among other
things, that the exposures are too low and that ethyl mercury is more easily
eliminated from the body than methyl mercury — the type produced by
industrial emissions that ends up in fish.
The CDC's neutrality on
thimerosal in flu vaccines comes amid blunt warnings from other federal
agencies about reducing methyl mercury levels in infants and toddlers, whose
developing brains may be more vulnerable.
Last month, for example,
the Food and Drug Administration cautioned that young children and women who
are nursing or pregnant should avoid fish high in mercury, such as shark and
swordfish. In February, the EPA estimated that nearly 1 in 6 babies may be
exposed to hazardous levels of mercury through the umbilical cord.
recent months, small mercury spills resulted in the evacuation and cleanup
of several schools. In January, for example, a middle school in Reno was
shut down for eight days of extensive decontamination after mercury spilled
on a school bus was tracked inside by students.
Boyd E. Haley, who is
chairman of the department of chemistry at the University of Kentucky and is
considered an authority on both ethyl and methyl mercury, said it was
"preposterous and ridiculous" for the government to warn about methyl
mercury in fish but sanction ethyl mercury's being injected into
The CDC decision is "unconscionable," Haley said. "If it were
my grandson or my granddaughter, there's no way in hell you'd give them
a vaccine containing thimerosal."
The decision endorses the stance of
a panel of experts that advises the CDC on vaccination policies. Citing
estimates of 36,000 deaths a year from influenza, the Advisory Committee on
Immunization Policy recommended that all children 6 to 24 months old be
considered at risk and receive two flu shots next fall. Rejecting pleas from
parent activists, the committee refused to state a preference for giving
thimerosal-free vaccines to toddlers and pregnant women.
The CDC will
officially publish its decision later this month in an official agency
The CDC orders mass quantities of vaccine for state and local
health departments that immunize low-income children. Paradoxically, the
agency has ordered up to 2 million doses of thimerosal-free vaccine for
the coming fall to be sure there is enough for health departments that
request it, said Roger Bernier, senior scientist with the CDC's immunization
However, the CDC's stating a preference for thimerosal-free
vaccines "would drive the demand even more aggressively," Bernier said.
There is no need to do so, he said, given the lack of proof of
Dr. Margaret Rennels, who chairs the academy of pediatrics'
committee on infectious diseases, cited manufacturers' estimates that nearly
one-third of a vaccine is lost in the process of removing thimerosal and
in packaging the preservative-free version. "It is the judgment of pediatric
disease specialists that it would be better to have a third bigger supply
given the lack of evidence of harm from thimerosal," she said.
unclear, however, whether high demand for preservative-free vaccine would in
fact disrupt supplies.
Three companies produce flu vaccines for the U.S.
market. Only one, Aventis Pasteur Inc., a subsidiary of French
pharmaceutical giant Aventis, is licensed to make the medicine for children
as young as 6 to 24 months.
Aventis makes both thimerosal and
thimerosal-free vaccine at its Swiftwater, Pa., plant. Len Lavenda, director
of public affairs, said Aventis encourages parents who are concerned to ask
their doctors to order thimerosal-free vaccines. The company believes "we
will be able to produce a sufficient amount" of mercury-free vaccine,
Lavenda said, "providing we're notified early enough."
Lyn Redwood, a registered nurse and the mother of an autistic child, said that without a
signal from the CDC, which is "looked to in this country as the authority on
vaccines," parents and doctors simply wouldn't demand mercury-free
Dr. Neal Halsey, director of the Institute for Vaccine Safety at
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said that "it would make
life much easier for everybody if there wasn't the thimerosal in
the vaccines." But he added: "I personally am not concerned."
Halsey described the situation as different from 1999, when the call went out to
eliminate thimerosal from childhood immunizations. That appeal stemmed from
a realization that infants were getting a cumulative dose of 187.5
micrograms of mercury by the age of 6 months under the approved immunization
schedule. Halsey, who was among those voicing alarm, said flu shots with
thimerosal would deliver only a 25 microgram dose to children 6 months and
older, so the exposure would be lower "in terms of the amount that's given
and the size of the child."
Immunization Resources - 1!
Immunization Resources - 2!