Fact Or Fiction
Since 2001, all vaccines routinely recommended by CDC for children under six years of age are thimerosal-free, or contain only trace amounts, except for some formulations of influenza vaccine. Thimerosal has been used for over 70 years in the United States in combination vaccines to prevent the growth of microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi. Contamination by germs in a vaccine, besides being just plain gross, could cause serious illness or death.
Thimerosal does not cause autism. Studies show that vaccines containing thimerosal have no evidence of harm to humans, aside from redness and swelling.
Three leading federal agencies: the CDC, FDA, National Institute of Health, and three independent organizations: The National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine, Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices [ACIP], and the American Academy of Pediatrics [AAP] have reviewed the published research on thimerosal and found it to be a safe product to use in vaccines.
Additionally, in March 2010 three judges ruled in three separate cases that thimerosal, a preservative containing mercury, does not cause autism. And in 2009 The U.S. Court of Federal Claims found that after reviewing 5,000 tapes of transcripts, 939 medical articles, 50 expert reports and hearing testimony from 28 experts that MMR and thimerosal-containing vaccines do not cause autism. In September 2010 the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics published a study adding to the evidence that there is no link. The study found that prenatal and infant exposure to thimerosal in vaccines does not increase the risk of autism.
Even though there have been numerous studies concluding the safety of thimerosal, in July 1999 the Public Health Service agencies, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and vaccine manufacturers agreed that thimerosal should be reduced or eliminated in vaccines. This was done as a general push to remove mercury from all products, not because there was evidence confirming that thimerosal-containing vaccines were causing health problems.
The primary cause for concern for many parents is that mercury is known to be harmful to humans; however, there are different types of mercury. Thimerosal is an ethyl mercury which is different from the type of mercury we are most familiar with—methyl mercury.
Methyl mercury is an organic compound of mercury; mercury’s organic compounds are the most toxic to humans. When we think of the mercury that naturally accumulates in fish, such as tuna, it is most often methyl mercury.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), ethyl mercury has a shorter half life in the body (less than one week) than methyl mercury (1.5 months) and is excreted through the gut, unlike methyl mercury. The methyl mercury that is consumed through our seafood sources is more easily absorbed and stays in the body longer, making it much more toxic than the very tiny amount of ethyl mercury used in some vaccines. In fact, you get more than three times as much ethyl mercury eating a can of tuna!
To learn more about the difference between these two types watch this quick ColoradoMom2Mom video.