Monday, April 04, 2005

READER RESPONSE -- Mercury is not gone from vaccines

Posted by Craig Westover | 9:05 AM |  

The following letter-to-the-editor from a doctor in Virgina was emailed to me and to the Pioneer Press on April 4. It answers some of the questions about whether or not mercury has been removed from childhood vaccines.

Dr. Hull's 3/29 letter "Rhetoric on mercury in vaccines ignores facts"
illustrates the intense emotion on both sides of the debate about
mercury-containing vaccines, and how they may relate to autism. Yet
Dr. Hull falls into the trap of repeating the same myths that medical
bureaucrats and government policymakers often do. He states, "all but
the tiniest traces of mercury were removed years ago from the vaccines
routinely given to infants." Medical bureaucrats like Dr. Hull may
believe if they repeat this often enough, it will become fact.

The truth is that the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Public
Health Service issued a joint policy statement in July 1999 declaring
the goal of removing the preservative thimerosal "as soon as possible"
from infant vaccines. Vaccine manufacturers then began developing
vaccines without the preservative, but there was never a recall of the
mercury-containing ones already on the shelves, or in production at
that time. According to the Johns Hopkins' Institute for Vaccine
Safety, Merck was still producing the full-dose (12.5 mcg ethyl
mercury) Hepatitis B vaccine, Recombivax, in April 2004. To further
confuse the issue, Recombivax was available in two versions, in
single-dose preservative free vials, and multidose vials containing
thimerosal. Likewise, the HibTITER vaccine by Wyeth-Ayerst was
available in two versions till at least June of 2003 (source again,
Hopkins' Institute for Vaccine Safety), with the multidose vial
containing 25 mcg of ethyl mercury. Both Wyeth-Ayerst and Baxter made
DPT vaccines containing 25mcg of ethyl mercury at least as late as
February 2002.

How long did these vaccines remain on the shelves? According to the
CDC on a website "being maintained for historical purposes"
the shelf life for the standard pediatric vaccines is up to three

Finally, the latest addition to the vaccine schedule is the influenza
vaccine, for children 6-23 months. Again, according to the Institute
for Vaccine Safety, the mercury is there too: both the Fluzone
(Aventis-Pasteur) and Fluvirin (Evans) are available with and without
thimerosal. Because the thimerosal-free shot requires single dose
vials, it is more expensive, providing a significant incentive for
medical clinics to use the multidose vials. Dr. Hull, which type is
dispensed in Minnesota's Health Departments?

Doses of 12.5 or 25 mcg of mercury per shot are not "tiny" but, in
fact, massive overdoses for infants and toddlers, if we are to adhere
to the EPA limit of 0.1mcg/kg/day. As Mr. Westover pointed out, an
infant would have to weigh 275 pounds to get a shot containing 12.5 mcg
of mercury. The math is simple. What to do if concerned parents are
right about the autism-mercury connection is much harder.

Julia Whiting, MD
Charlottesville, VA