January 14, 2006

Thimerosal Safety: Point - Counterpoint

The Illinois AAP thinks that thimerosal in vaccines is safe:

Thimerosal and Vaccine Safety: What Providers Should Know

Dr. David Ayoub does not:

RESPONSE TO: Thimerosal and Vaccine Safety: What Providers Should Know By Ed Pont, MD FAAP, President Elect and Chair, ICAAP Committee on Government Affairs, and Julie Morita, MD, Medical Director, Immunization Program, Chicago Department of Public Health

1)”A law recently passed in Illinois may inadvertently support parents’ fears that vaccines are unsafe”

If this were true then why wasn’t there widespread panic when in 1999 mercury was suddenly removed from three childhood vaccines- Neonatal Hepatitis B, HiB and DTaP? Why not add all the mercury back into vaccines? This will “boost parents’ confidence” in the vaccine program! What an absurd statement. Reports from one
Springfield hospital indicate, as predicted, influenza vaccine acceptance rates increased this year once they secured only thimerosal-free shots. Safer vaccines will restore much of the lost confidence in the vaccine industry.

2) Since the 1930s, thimerosal has been widely used as a preservative in biological and drug products, including vaccines, to help prevent bacterial contamination.

The observation of thimerosal’s historic widespread use does not alone prove safety. There have been no safety studies conducted. I have read all of the published safety studies (Smithburn 1930, Powell and Jameson 193) from the 1930’s, and they showed that: 1) thimerosal-exposed animals died of mercury poisoning and 2) all humans who received intravenous thimerosal died. I fail to see how these studies assure safety.

Thimerosal is such an ineffective preservative that Chiron lost over half of the US flu vaccine supply because it became contaminated with bacteria in spite of the preservation by thimerosal. The ineffectiveness of thimerosal as an anti-microbial agent has been reported by numerous researchers as far back as the 1940’s. Through the use of single-dose vials, the FDA does not require vaccines to contain any preservatives. I would suggest that this statement is designed to distract from the fact that NO SAFETY STUDIES EXIST.

3) “No guidelines exist for ethylmercury [thimerosal]”.

This fact alone should be sufficient reason for the AAP to support the elimination of mercury. Drs. Pont and Morita chose to leap to the conclusion that the amount of mercury in current vaccines is safe yet admits to inadequate safety guidelines. What ever happened to “first do no harm”? Common sense would dictate that if no guidelines have been established for its use, it should not be used.

4) “Thimerosal has been the subject of several studies. There has been no scientific evidence of harm caused by the small amounts of thimerosal in vaccines, except for minor effects like swelling and redness at the injection site.”

It has been said that a lie told over and over again will eventually be believed as fact. First, thimerosal, at the levels found in today’s thimerosal-containing vaccines, has been documented to cause severe adverse reactions, including, but not limited to, anaphylactic shock and death in “sensitive” individuals. Apparently Drs. Pont and Morita overlooked these major reactions. This is even acknowledged by thimerosal manufacturers. Secondly, the volume of research published in peer-review journals that confirms thimerosal is a neurotoxin and is associated with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders is extensive and their unwillingness to acknowledge this data will not make it go away. (see appendix)

5) “The committee [2004 Institute of Medicine Immunization Safety Review Committee] also concluded that there is no scientific evidence of a causal relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism and that potential biological mechanisms for vaccine-induced autism that have been generated to date are only theoretical.”

First, The IOM report has been widely criticized by the scientific as well as the legislative community. (see attached speech, Congressman Weldon, Dr Ed Yazbak). The IOM conclusions are only as good as the science that supports them. And in a word, the science was garbage (extensive discussion available upon request). The cited research was uniformly funded by pharmaceutical companies. The IOM executive committee is comprised of a small number of individuals who are tied to the drug industry, including Gail Cassell, the VP of Eli Lily, the very organization that is being charged with $100’s of billions in liability, and two former employees of the CDC, the very organization being charged with oversight failure with regards to vaccine safety and mercury content. Finally, the AAP would unlikely acknowledge that documents obtained through FOIA showed that the IOM committee had decided NOT to find a link between vaccines and autism before reviewing a single paper on the subject. The IOM process was conflicted, biased and wrong.

6)” ICAAP fought for language in the law that authorizes the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to exempt a vaccine from the Act in case of an actual or potential bio-terrorist incident or public health emergency such as an epidemic or vaccine shortage.”

In fact, the bill’s sponsors introduced the exemption when they crafted the language from several other states’ legislation. The AAP should not take credit for this. Furthermore, considering 1 of 6 Americans suffer from learning disabilities and 1 in 80 males from autism; it is hard to imagine a more successful bioterrorism agent than mercury.

7) “However, some preparations of the inactivated influenza vaccine, now routinely recommended for healthy infants aged six to 23 months and other high-risk children, contain thimerosal as a preservative. Thimerosal-free preparations are of the inactivated influenza vaccine are available in limited supplies”

The majority of children will get a flu vaccine that contains 12.5 micrograms of mercury. Based upon EPA limits, these infants will receive 11-16 times what is considered safe. There is a LIMITED amount of just about everything tangible on earth, but there were 6 million doses of pediatric flu vaccines available for the current season, easily enough for all children in Illinois of this age group, which is the first state to activate the mercury-free flu vaccine legislation. Yet, the AAP chose not to advice clinicians to order these available vaccines for this season or next season, but rather chose to support an exemption.

8) “Vaccine opponents have inappropriately referenced the 1999 AAP statement when arguing that thimerosal-containing vaccines are unsafe and should be banned... Providing children with influenza and other vaccines is safe and consistent with the 1999 joint AAP/PHS recommendation.”

What is crystal clear, the Illinois AAP has chosen to ignore the main point of the 1999 warning.

The “9 July 1999” joint statement said: (with bolding added for emphasis)
“Nevertheless, because any potential risk is of concern, the Public Health Service (PHS), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and vaccine manufacturers agree that thimerosal-containing vaccines should be removed as soon as possible. Similar conclusions were reached this year in a meeting attended by European regulatory agencies, European vaccine manufacturers, and FDA, which examined the use of thimerosal-containing vaccines produced or sold in European countries.

PHS and AAP are working collaboratively to assure that the replacement of thimerosal-containing vaccines takes place as expeditiously as possible while at the same time ensuring that our high vaccination coverage levels and their associated low disease levels throughout our entire childhood population are maintained.”

The AAP has an adequate flu vaccine supply for infants for 2005-06 and yet has not advised any pediatrician to order thimerosal-free vaccine preferentially. The supply next flu season will almost certainly be expand. The concern about “potential risk” was very clearly stated. The AAP and IDPH may choose to spin this announcement in defense of their own actions, but their actions speak volumes….they have chosen to inject more mercury into childhood vaccines and shots for pregnant women in spite of the will of the governor, legislators, parents, advocates and a growing number of physicians.

David Ayoub, MD
9th Jan 2006

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