The UK announced Saturday they will remove the mercury preservative Thimerosal from their vaccines. The news comes days after an LA Times article reported that Aventis-Pasteur, a pharmaceutical giant, is pushing to keep the toxin in U.S. vaccines.
According to the article, Aventis is "trying to rally opposition to state legislation that would bar use of a mercury-based preservative in vaccines administered to infants and pregnant women in California."
The California legislation, introduced by Assemblywoman Fran Pavley, would protect pregnant women and children younger than 3 from full amounts of Thimerosal. A similar bill recently passed in Iowa. To combat the child-friendly legislation, Aventis-Pasteur has solicited the help of the California Conference of Local Health Officials to oppose the bill.
Two months ago, CBS Evening News reported on a Columbia University study which showed that a specific strain of mice developed autistic-like behaviors after being injected with Thimerosal. A February 2000 study conducted by the CDC also found a link.
Rita Shreffler, parent and spokesperson for NAA says both of her children were damaged by the toxin. "I'm outraged that anyone would expose pregnant women and young children to this neurotoxin after all the evidence that has been presented. Aventis-Pasteur's selling points seem to be scare tactics at best. This is obviously money-driven," says Shreffler.
They say it also may be a duck-and-cover tactic. Last month, the California State Department of Developmental Services (DDS) announced that California's developmental services system has experienced the first ever nine-month sustained reduction in professionally-diagnosed new cases of full-syndrome autism. The reduction in numbers coincides with the reduction of Thimerosal.
But according to Aventis, removal of Thimerosal from the flu shots may present vaccine shortages and a higher risk for a flu outbreak. Parent Wendy Fournier says when you look at all the information, you quickly realize it's a weak excuse. "They've had years to create mercury-free batches. Thimerosal is cheap -- that's why they want it in there," she says.
A partial list of vaccines that still contain full doses of Thimerosal:
- Meningococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine (Aventis Pasteur) 10-dose Vial, lot UB505AA - Expires 17 Jun 05 - 25 micrograms of mercury per dose from Thimerosal;
- Td Vaccine (Aventis Pasteur) 10-dose Vial, lot U1014AA - Expires 2 Sept 05 - 25 micrograms of mercury per dose from Thimerosal;
- Tetanus Toxoid Absorbed Vaccine (Aventis Pasteur) 10-dose Vial, lot U1048BA - Expires 8 Sept 05 - 25 micrograms of mercury per dose from Thimerosal;
- Tetanus Toxoid Vaccine (Aventis Pasteur) 15-dose Vial, lot U0775AA - Expires 10 Mar 05 - 25 micrograms of mercury per dose from Thimerosal;
- Japanese Encephalitis Vaccine (Je-Vax - Aventis Pasteur) 3 x 1 mL Vials, lot EJN*196B - 35.7 micrograms of mercury per dose from Thimerosal;
- Td Vaccine Mass. Department of Health, 7.5 mL Vial, lot Td-102 - Expires 21 May 2005 - 8.3 micrograms of mercury per dose from Thimerosal;
- Influenza Virus Vaccine (Fluzone - Aventis Pasteur) 5 mL Vial - 25 micrograms of mercury per dose from Thimerosal;
- Pediatric DT Vaccine (Aventis Pasteur) 5 mL Vial - 25 micrograms of mercury per dose from Thimerosal.