The Amount of Mercury (and Thimerosal) in Vaccines
Amalgam fillings. Thermometers. Batteries. Light bulbs. They can all contain toxic levels of mercury and all are used and sold on a daily basis around the world. But perhaps the most dangerous is the one that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends on a regular basis — and something that has been saving lives for decades: Vaccines.
As the mercury debate rages on in the dental industry, it’s important to remember that the medical industry — pharmaceutical in particular — is no stranger to the conversation. In fact, the danger of mercury levels in common vaccines have been debated for decades. The primary target? Thimerosal.
In the 1930s, pharmaceutical companies introduced thimerosal — which contains mercury as a primary ingredient — as a preservative for vaccines (preservatives are required by the FDA for use in multi-dose vaccines to prevent bacterial contamination of biological products). Thimerosal has been used in more than 30 U.S. licensed vaccines since the 1930s to help prevent microbial growth during storage and use. It is also used in the manufacturing process for some vaccines.
Thimerosal is about 50 percent ethylmercury, whereas methylmercury is the predominant form of organic mercury in the environment. Many childhood vaccines contain between 12.5 to 25 micrograms of mercury. Through the eighties, it was in flu vaccine and various diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis vaccines. In the late eighties and early nineties, as hepatitis B and Hib vaccines were added to the immunization schedule, there were now more vaccines in the childhood immunization schedule that contained thimerosal.
Dr. Jay Liebermann,
Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist, University of California, Irvine
Organic mercury is a well-known neurotoxin that can accumulate in the body’s soft tissue, such as the brain, and has been linked to problems such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, autism, and much more. Children and fetuses are especially susceptible. By using a preservative that contains 50% mercury in vaccines, children immunized with a thimerosal-preserved vaccine are receiving a neurotoxin directly through the blood stream.
(Methylmercury is considered the most dangerous form of organic mercury. Thimerosal contains ethylmercury, another form of organic mercury. While ethylmercury is thought to be less toxic than methylmercury, studies have been inconclusive and, as such, regulations and warnings have been applied equally to both ethyl and methylmercury. More specifically, any and all organic forms of mercury have been deemed a neurotoxin dangerous to children and fetuses, ad well as many adults.)
As reported by the Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during their Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices February 21-22, 2007 in Atlanta, Georgia “A goal of the 1997 FDA Modernization Act was to compile a list of drugs and foods that contained intentionally introduced mercury compounds and provide a quantitative analysis. The FDA concluded that infants who received thimerosal-containing vaccines at several visits could exceed the total mercury exposure recommended by Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.”(http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/recs/acip/downloads/min-feb07.pdf, Page 22)
In 1999, as a precautionary measure to maintain the public’s trust in immunization, the AAP/FDA U.S. Public Health Service issued a joint statement urging manufacturers to remove thimerosal from vaccines as soon as possible.
“Thimerosal as a preservative was removed from most childhood vaccines by 2001 and the last lots of thimerosal preservative-containing vaccines expired in January 2003. It is still being discussed only because of ongoing litigation in both state courts and the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Thimerosal is still contained in some of the flu vaccines routinely given to children since 2004. There are also vaccines that contain trace, often unmeasurable, levels of thimerosal.” (http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/recs/acip/downloads/min-feb07.pdf, Page 23)
While thimersosal — and, hence, mercury — is indeed being phased out in most vaccines, plenty of vaccines still contain the preservative, particularly multi-dose vaccines (as preservatives for multi-does vaccines are still mandated by the FDA). So how do you know if a vaccine is mercury-free and safe for children? Unfortunately, most doctors and vaccination clinics don’t have that information readily available and unless you specifically ask for a certain vaccine, you most often will not be provided a choice. Thankfully, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has made identification of mercury-containing vaccines an easier task.
On September 18, 2009, The Institute for Vaccine Safety at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health published an updated list of Thimerosal Content in Some US Licensed Vaccines that you can view online at http://www.vaccinesafety.edu/thi-table.htm (they also have a PDF version you can download and print available at the same link).
While the list is not all-inclusive, it does provide updated information on mercury levels in many of the most popular and common vaccines (including the thimerosal and mercury levels in the N1H1 vaccines). A quick glance at the chart will indeed reveal that most single-dose vaccines are thimerosal-free while many multi-dose vaccines still contain the mercury-enriched preservative.
The CDC, the AAP, the FDA, and many other government and health organizations have widely acknowledged that organic mercury is a neurotoxin that can be incredibly dangerous to the human body — especially to children and developing fetuses. Why then, are high doses of mercury still allowed in such products as vaccines and mercury amalgam dental fillings? While the most common arguments are centered around the relatively low levels of mercury in the products (which should be irrelevant because mercury, as a “heavy metal,” cannot be processed by the human body and, therefore, accumulates in the soft tissue over time. Chronic or occasional exposure to even trace amounts of organic mercury can accumulate to lethal levels over time), what is the motivation behind allowing ANY level of known neurotoxins to remain on the market for human consumption?
The answers to those questions lie mostly in the political and financial realm. Unfortunately, until we begin to value health over politics and vitality over money, the debate will continue to rage at the expense of our health and the health of the world’s youth.
Update: Despite the risks (and regulations) associated with thimerosal and mercury in vaccines, Washington State has issued a 6-month suspension on safety limits of the preservative used in the H1N1 (swine flu) vaccine. For more details, please read our article “Washington State Suspends Safe Levels of Mercury in H1N1 Vaccine.”
For more great information about the dangers (or safety) of vaccines containing thimerosal, check out this article by NaturalNews.com: http://www.naturalnews.com/011764.html. Despite it’s relative age (written in 2005) it’s loaded with great research and a ton of great information. A “must-read” article if you have questions regarding thimerosal and mercury in vaccines.
(The preceding article is meant to provide information about thimerosal in vaccines. This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advise or to replace the advice of a qualified physician. Please consult your physician with any concerns or questions you have in regards to thimerosal and mercury in vaccines and which vaccines might be right for you and your loved ones.)
United States Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration, “Vaccines, Blood & Biologics: Thimerosal in Vaccines”; http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/SafetyAvailability/VaccineSafety/UCM096228
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, The Institute for Vaccine Safety, “Thimerosal Content in Some US Licensed Vaccines”; http://www.vaccinesafety.edu/thi-table.htm
Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, February 21-22, 2007 in Atlanta, Georgia; “THIMEROSAL: REVIEWING THE EVIDENCE” (Pages 21-26), Dr. Jay Liebermann, Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist, University of California, Irvine; http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/recs/acip/downloads/min-feb07.pdf