Joint Statement Of The American Academy Of Pediatrics And The American Public Health Service Regarding Mercury In Vaccines

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Modernization Act of 1997 called for the FDA to review and assess the risk of all mercury containing food and drugs. In line with this review, U.S. vaccine manufacturers responded to a December 1998 and April 1999 FDA request to provide more detailed information about the thimerosal content of their preparations that include this compound as a preservative.

Thimerosal has been used as an additive to biologics and vaccines since the 1930's because it is very effective in killing bacteria used in several vaccines and in preventing bacterial contamination, particularly in opened multi-dose containers. Some, but not all, of the vaccines recommended routinely for children in the United States, contain thimerosal. The recognition that some children could be exposed to a cumulative level of mercury over the first six months of life that exceeds one of the federal guidelines on methyl mercury now requires a weighing of two different types of risks when vaccinating infants.

On the one hand, there is the known serious risk of diseases and deaths caused by failure to immunize our infants against vaccine-preventable infectious diseases; on the other, there is the unknown and probably much smaller risk, if any, of neuro-developmental effects posed by exposure to thimerosal.

Dr. Mercola's Comment:

The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), the oldest and largest organization in the U.S. representing vaccine consumers and parents of vaccine injured children, is calling this joint statement issued by the U.S. Public Health Service and the American Academy of Pediatrics to eliminate the mercury content in hepatitis B vaccine and other childhood vaccines and to roll back the universal recommendation that all newborn infants receive hepatitis B vaccine at birth as "an important step" in improving the safety of childhood vaccines and vaccine policies.

The cumulative effects of ingesting mercury can cause brain damage. Thimerosal, a mercury compound, is used as a preservative in hepatitis B, diphtheria, pertussis and acellular pertussis, tetanus and HIB vaccines. Most infants have received a total of 15 doses of these mercury-containing vaccines by age six months.

This week’s surprise announcement came just seven weeks after a May 18 hearing on the safety of hepatitis B vaccine and vaccine policies in the U.S. House subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources. At the May 18 hearing, parents of children who were injured or died from reactions to the hepatitis B vaccine, as well as scientists critical of hepatitis B vaccine policy, questioned the scientific evidence used to license the vaccine for use in all newborn infants born to hepatitis B negative mothers.

Eliminating mercury from childhood vaccines is an important safety initiative, but further evaluation of the cumulative toxic effects of other vaccine ingredients, such as aluminum used as an adjuvant, will also be undertaken in compliance with the FDA Modernization Act of 1997. However, the CDC's decision, for whatever reason, to roll back the recommendation to vaccinate all newborn infants born to hepatitis B negative mothers and to delay the vaccination of premature or underweight infants is the right thing to do and will result in the deaths and injury of fewer babies. The only newborn infants at risk for hepatitis B infection are those born to hepatitis B positive mothers. In a June 1999 hepatitis B study conducted in North Carolina, the hepatitis B seroprevalence rate in new mothers was found to be only 0.2 percent, 25 times less than the 5 per cent seroprevalence rate estimate for the US population used by the Centers for Disease Control to justify universal hepatitis B vaccination.

The National Vaccine Information Center, a non-profit organization founded in 1982 by parents of vaccine injured children, worked with Congress to develop the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 (PL99-660) and played a leading role in obtaining a purified, less toxic pertussis vaccine for American babies, which was licensed by the FDA in 1996. The goal of the organization is to prevent vaccine injuries and deaths through public education. For more information, access or call 1-800-909-SHOT. The PHS and AAP continue to recommend that all children should be immunized against the diseases indicated in the recommended immunization schedule.

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