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Flu Vaccine (cont.)

Thimerosal and Mercury in Seasonal and Pandemic Vaccines

Thimerosal is a preservative that contains mercury and is used in multidose vials of conventional and pandemic flu vaccines to prevent contamination when the vial is repeatedly used to extract the vaccine. Although thimerosal is being phased out as a vaccine preservative, it is still used in flu vaccines in low levels. There is no data that indicate thimerosal in these vaccines has caused autism or other problems in individuals. Consequently, the FDA has indicated the following:

  • There is no convincing evidence of harm caused by the small doses of thimerosal preservative in influenza vaccines, except for minor effects like swelling and redness at the injection site.
  • A study of influenza vaccination examining over 2,000 pregnant women demonstrated no adverse fetal effects associated with influenza vaccine.

However, single-dose vials and the nasal-mist formulations of both the seasonal and pandemic vaccines contain no thimerosal. These vaccine options are available to individuals who still want thimerosal-free vaccine. In addition, the new intradermal vaccine has no thimerosal. For thimerosal levels in flu vaccines, the reader should see the CDC table in the reference http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/vaccines.htm under "mercury content."

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/2/2014

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