Most American are unaware that flu vaccines still contain thimerosal and that to avoid mercury, they have to ask for mercury-free shots. On November 13, 2007, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran the headline: "Most flu shots contain mercury, but few know it."
Thimerosal consists of 49.6% ethyl mercury. The Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration have not set an exposure limit for ethyl mercury.
"The federal agencies have, however, set exposure limits for another organic and closely related form of mercury, methyl mercury - the type that comes from coal-fired power plants and is found in fish," the Journal said. "They use that standard when estimating the safety of ethyl mercury."
"A typical 0.5 milliliter flu shot contains 25 micrograms - or 50,000 parts per billion - of mercury," the Journal reported.
"The EPA classifies a liquid with 200 parts per billion of mercury as hazardous waste," it advised. "The limit for drinking water is 2 parts per billion."
Using the standards set for methyl mercury consumption, "an average 130-pound person getting the flu shot would exceed the daily limit by more than four times," the Journal reported.
"A 22-pound baby would get more than 25 times the amount of mercury considered safe," it said.
"Mercury is among the most toxic heavy metals and is known to poison the central nervous system, liver, gastrointestinal tract and other systems in the body," the Journal reported.
When the influenza vaccines "are injected into pregnant woman and infants as young as six months, those vaccines contain 50,000 ppb mercury," warns Deirdre Imus in a November 19, 2007, Huffington Post article titled, "Over Medicated and Over-Vaccinated: The Unintended Consequence of Medicines Meant to Protect."
This amount of mercury is 250 times higher than hazardous waste, she notes, and, according to EPA guidelines, this amount can only be considered safe if a person weighs 550 pounds. "Even trace amounts of mercury in vaccines can be anywhere from 600 to 2000 ppb," she advises.
People need to ask for a thimerosal-free vaccine if they want it, health officials told the Journal. "But many people aren't aware that mercury is in the flu shot," the Journal found.
"I didn't know," said Kate Strzok, a 23-year-old Oak Creek woman, as she walked out of the Piggly Wiggly where she had just gotten the flu shot. "Interesting that they don't tell you."
PutChildrenFirst.org, a parent-led organization advocating for vaccine safety, announced the results of a survey on November 13, 2006, conducted during October 27-30, 2006, by Zogby International of over 9,000 Americans, to learn their plans for getting flu shots, their knowledge of its ingredients, and who they held responsible for making sure vaccines are safe.
The survey showed that an overwhelming majority of Americans were unaware that most flu shots contained mercury. After learning that mercury was an ingredient, 74% of those polled said they were less likely to get a flu shot and 86% of parents said they were less likely to allow their children to get a shot.
"The survey reveals that Americans are overwhelmingly in the dark about what is in most flu shots," said Lyn Redwood, RN, MSN, president of SafeMinds, a nonprofit organization committed to ending mercury-induced neurological disorders, in a press release.
"They do not want a known neurotoxin injected into their children, and they believe Congress and medical professionals must be more vigilant about keeping vaccines safe and mercury-free," she advised.
"With everything we know about the dangers of mercury and the havoc it can wreak on young, developing brains," she said, "there is no excuse for any vaccine to contain mercury."
Lisa Handley is a founding parent of PutChildrenFirst whose son had an adverse reaction to a flu shot with mercury in 2003. "I know firsthand how life-changing a flu shot with mercury can be, since our son began his regression into autism after his flu shot," she stated in the press release.
On October 5, 2009, the Maternal & Child Health Bureau of Health Resources and Services Administration, US Department of Health and Human Services released a study evaluating the number of children in the US who currently have a Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis, titled, "The Prevalence of Parent-Reported Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder among Children in the United States, 2007."
The study evaluated data from a national Survey of Children's Health and found that 1 in 91 children between the ages of 3 and 17 currently carry an ASD diagnosis.
"Even more alarming, for the subset of children between ages 6 and 14 immunized during the 1990's the prevalence is actually 1 in 71 children with an autism diagnosis," Age of Autism reports.
"This age group represents children in the U.S. with the highest exposure to thimerosal, the mercury preservative routinely used until CDC, AAP and industry recommended its removal "as soon as possible" from all childhood vaccines," AoA advises.
"We are especially alarmed by these findings because the seasonal influenza and H1N1 vaccines contain mercury well in excess of EPA safe exposure guidelines," said Theresa Wrangham, president of SafeMinds, in a statement to President Obama calling for a ban on mercury in vaccines given to pregnant women and young children.
Another new study found that giving Hepatitis B vaccine to newborn boys may triple the risk of developing an autism spectrum disorder. An abstract of the study was published in the September, 2009 "Annals of Epidemiology" journal. "Boys who received the hepatitis B vaccine during the first month of life had 2.94 greater odds for ASD compared to later - or unvaccinated boys," wrote Carolyn Gallagher and Melody Goodman of the graduate program in public health at Stony Brook University Medical Center in New York.
On September 30, 2009, Age of Autism Editor-at-Large, Mark Blaxill, reported on a new study in the journal "Neurotoxicology," by a research team led by scientists from the University of Pittsburgh and Thoughtful House, that found exposure to a birth dose of a hepatitis B vaccine that included thimerosal caused significant delays in the development of several survival reflexes in male rhesus macaque monkeys.
"In the first safety study of its kind of the hepatitis vaccine birth dose, the researchers showed that male macaques vaccinated at birth with a hepatitis B vaccine (HBV) took more than twice as long as unexposed macaques to acquire three standardized skills typically used to measure infant brain development," Blaxill wrote.
The study showed vaccinated monkeys learned more slowly to (1) turn their head in response to a brush on the cheek (root reflex); (2) open their mouth in response to a brush on the forehead (snout reflex); and (3) suck on a nipple placed in their mouth (suck reflex). The researchers found the unvaccinated monkeys developed normally.
The study is part of a larger research program looking at the safety of the vaccine schedule in children from birth to age four.
Dr Andrew Wakefield, Executive Director of Thoughtful House, and a co-investigator of the project, told Age of Autism that he found it particularly concerning "that in spite of the recommendation to remove thimerosal from vaccines a decade ago, millions of people, many of them children and pregnant mothers, are about to get mercury in their shots."
A 2006 study in the "Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons," by Dr David Ayoub and Dr F Edward Yazback, titled, Influenza Vaccinations During Pregnancy: A Critical Assessment of the Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), states:
"The ACIP policy recommendation of routinely administering influenza vaccine during pregnancy is ill-advised and unsupported by current scientific literature, and it should be withdrawn. Use of thimerosal during pregnancy should be contraindicated."
"Because the benefits of influenza vaccination during pregnancy appear lacking, a safety-benefit analysis should not tolerate any risk to vaccine recipients or their offspring, even at a theoretical level," the doctors conclude.
Back on February 28, 2005, the Associated Press reported that lower "IQ levels linked to mercury exposure in the womb costs the United States $8.7 billion a year in lost earnings potential," citing a study by researchers at New York's Mount Sinai hospital published in the journal, "Environmental Health Perspectives."
The Mount Sinai Center for Children's Health and the Environment combined a number of previous studies to determine hundreds of thousands of babies are born every year with lower IQ associated with mercury exposure.
Lead researcher and pediatician, Leonard Trasande, reported that annually between 316,588 and 637,233 infants are born with umbilical cord blood mercury levels linked to IQ loss.
As an example, Dr Trasande said, each year about 4% of babies are with blood mercury levels between 7.13 and 15 micrograms per liter. That level of mercury causes an IQ loss of 1.6 points, the researchers concluded.
A 1.6 point drop could cost a person more than $31,000 in potential earnings over a lifetime due to missed educational opportunities or jobs, the study calculated. The researchers found the IQ losses linked to mercury ranged from one-fifth of an IQ point to as much as 24 points.
"The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that about 8 percent of American women of childbearing age have enough mercury in their blood to put a fetus at risk," the Associated Press noted.