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Global policy on the use of mercury as a preservative in vaccine called discriminatory


Photo of a syringe being filled with the vaccine from its bottleBackground:
The authors of the paper refer to Thimerosal, 49.55% mercury, used as a preservative and adjuvant in vaccines.  Organo-mercury compounds are very strong neurotoxins, and the ongoing discussion about the safety of products containing such compounds led to the ban of Thimerosal in 1998 from American over-the-counter products.  While still in several U.S. influenza shots, Thimerosal has been removed from other early childhood vaccines, ranging from tetanus to hepatitis B, since 2003 in the U.S. and other developed countries.  Yet, manufacturers, including Sanofi Pasteur, Merck, and GSK, currently produce mercury-free or mercury-reduced vaccines for the U.S. while producing vaccines with unreduced levels of Thimerosal for developing countries. Recent scientific studies from Brazil and China confirm Thimerosal harms children.

The cited paper:
The authors were motivated for their paper by the failure of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to establish a maximum safe exposure limit for Thimerosal, as well as the failure of the 2013 Minamata Convention on Mercury, negotiated through the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), to include vaccines among mercury-containing products to be regulated.  Sykes et al. allege that public health officials are discriminating against developing nations by sanctioning a double standard for vaccine safety.  

"We recognize the importance of vaccination programs and want all children to benefit from vaccines," CoMeD President Rev. Lisa K. Sykes explains.  "However, giving children in developing nations shots with a toxic ingredient that was largely discontinued in the U.S. a decade ago is unethical."

Viable and much safer alternatives to Thimerosal have been in use in the U.S. for over 70 years. Furthermore, a Pfizer study showed that at least one alternative has "superior antimicrobial effectiveness over Thimerosal."  

Dr. Janet Kern of the Institute of Chronic Illnesses described the issue of equality in regard to vaccines: "The World Health Organization (WHO) and Bill Gates, through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, promote equal access to vaccines for all children.  Now we need to promote one global standard of vaccine safety to protect all children from vaccine mercury."

Sykes and her colleagues have launched the Mercury Free Baby campaign in Louisville, KY, on April 25-26 at the United Methodist Women's Assembly to educate parents about choosing mercury-free vaccines and dental fillings.  More information can be viewed at www.mercuryfreebaby.org.

SOURCE: Adapted from Coalition for Mercury-Free Drugs (CoMeD)

The cited study:

L.K. Sykes, D.A. Geier, P.G. King, J.K. Kern, B.E. Haley, C.G. Chaigneau, M.N. Megson, J.M. Love, R.E. Reeves, M.R. Geier, Thimerosal as discrimination: vaccine disparity in the UN Minamata Convention on mercury,  Indian J. Med. Ethics, On-line April 11, 2014.

Related information:

UNEP: Reducing Risk from Mercury
Mercury Free Baby campaign
U.S. House of Representatives' 2003 report: Mercury in Medicine - Taking Unnecessary Risks (the result of a 3-year investigation)
FDA: Thimerosal in vaccines
CDC: Thimerosal in Vaccines: A Joint Statement of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Public Health Service
Coalition for Mercury-free Drugs (CoMeD): Calls for Ban on Mercury in Vaccines
Coalition for Mercury-free Drugs (CoMeD): Documents related to the use of thimerosal  in vaccines
Coalition for Mercury-free Drugs (CoMeD): The Viability of Using Non-mercury Preservatives in Vaccines
Vaccination News, March 14, 2011: Thimerosal Containing Vaccines
Wikipedia: Thiomersal controversy

Related EVISA Resources:

Link Database: Toxicity of mercury
Link database: Mercury and human health
Link database: Toxicity of Organo-mercury compounds
Link database: Research projects related to organo-mercury compounds
Link database: All about thimerosal (thiomersal)
Brief summary:  Speciation analysis for the study of metallodrugs and their biomolecular interactions

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October 12, 2012: Prenatal mercury intake linked to ADHD
July 15, 2012: World Health Organization Fails In Its Effort To Defend Mercury In Vaccines Before United Nations 
June 19, 2012: Vaccine ingredient causes brain damage; some nutrients prevent it
October 28, 2011: WHO worries mercury treaty could affect costs and availability of vaccines
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March 17, 2011: Researchers Urge the Removal of Mercury From Flu Shots
September 24, 2009: Huge field experiment for assessing human ethylmercury risk starting in october
July 15, 2009: New Study Finds: Thimerosal Induces Autism-like Neurotoxicity

March 24, 2006: Mercury Containing Preservative Alters Immune Function
April 27, 2005: New results about toxicity of thimerosal
February 11, 2005: New findings about Thimerosal Neurotoxicity

last time modified: May 28, 2014


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