Thimerosal to be discussed at Wednesday's CDC meeting

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will meet this week at the CDC in Atlanta. Thimerosal, a controversial mercury-based vaccine preservative, is scheduled to be discussed Wednesday morning at 10:55 am.

While thimerosal has been phased out of some vaccines, it is still present in flu shots recommended for pregnant women, infants and young children. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines indicate that the 25 micrograms of mercury contained in flu shots is unsafe for anyone weighing less than 550 pounds.

Two weeks ago, the CDC released a report citing 1 in 150 children are now diagnosed with autism. Many parents and scientists believe the increased use of mercury-containing vaccines starting in the late 1980's has led to the rise in cases.

"Children and fetuses are still being exposed unnecessarily to this neurotoxin," says father Christian McIlwain of Cary, North Carolina. "With the recently added recommendations that influenza vaccines be given to women during any stage of pregnancy and children from age six months and up, the amount of early-age thimerosal exposure through recommended vaccines has increased drastically in the last two years-it's time for the committee to advise that only thimerosal-free vaccines be used for pregnant women and children."

Despite multiple requests by the research group SafeMinds and the National Autism Association, this is the first time ACIP has put thimerosal on the agenda in several years. Advocacy groups were told by the CDC that thimerosal would be discussed at the October 2006 ACIP meeting, but it was never assigned.

ACIP consists of 15 experts in fields associated with immunization that have been selected by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to provide advice on immunizations. It develops recommendations for the routine administration of vaccines to the pediatric and adult populations, and is the only entity in the federal government that makes such recommendations.

The public is urged to attend the ACIP meeting, and can register online by visiting www.cdc.gov/nip/acip/dates.htm.

http://www.nationalautism.org/ and http://www.cdc.gov/nip/acip/dates.htm

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