Institute Of Medicine Findings
I understand that the Institute of Medicine has reviewed the issue of thimerosal in vaccines. What were the IOM’s findings?
In its report of October 1, 2001, the IOM’s Immunization Safety Review Committee concluded that the evidence is inadequate to either accept or reject a causal relationship between thimerosal exposure from childhood vaccines and the neurodevelopmental disorders of autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder , and speech or language delay. At that time the committee’s conclusion was based on the fact that there were no published epidemiological studies examining the potential association between thimerosal containing vaccines and neurodevelopmental disorders. The Committee did conclude that the hypothesis that exposure to thimerosal-containing vaccines could be associated with neurodevelopmental disorders was biologically plausible. However, additional studies were needed to establish or reject a causal relationship.
The Committee believed that the effort to remove thimerosal from vaccines was “a prudent measure in support of the public health goal to reduce mercury exposure of infants and children as much as possible.” Furthermore, in this regard, the Committee urged that “full consideration be given to removing thimerosal from any biological product to which infants, children, and pregnant women are exposed.”
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What Are The Possible Side
- Most people dont have any side effects from thimerosal, but some people will have mild reactions like redness and swelling at the place where the shot was given, which only last 1 to 2 days. Its very unlikely you will have an allergic reaction to thimerosal. Research shows that most people who are allergic to thimerosal will not have a reaction when thimerosal is injected under the skin .
- Anyone who believes they have been injured by a vaccine should contact the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.
For similar information and more information about the science of vaccines, visit .
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Drinking 2 Cups Of Coffee While Pregnant Could Mean Shorter Kids
Children whose mothers drank about two cups of coffee a day when they were pregnant were shorter than kids whose moms didn’t drink coffee during pregnancy.
The findings were published Monday in JAMA Network Open. Researchers studied 2,400 children between the ages of four and eight and said that they believe coffee can impact children until they are eight years old.
The researchers said that, given that roughly eight in 10 U.S. pregnant women consume caffeine, it is important to determine whether in utero caffeine exposure has long-term growth implications in offspring. The scientists concluded further research is needed to see if these height gaps continue into adulthood.
What Is Thimerosal Is It The Same As Mercury
- Thimerosal is a mercury-containing organic compound and has been used for decades in the United States and other countries. Its used as a preservative in a number of biological and drug products, including many vaccines, to help prevent potentially life threatening contamination with harmful microbes.
- Mercury is a metal found naturally in the environment and affects the human body differently than thimerosal.
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Delivery Of The Flu Shot In 2022
Not all flu shots are the same. Some arent even shots. Here are your 2022 flu vaccine options:
Nasal Spray: The nasal spray vaccine is the only kind to include a live attenuated influenza vaccine. Although it cant give you the flu, it does have a higher likelihood of inducing flu-like symptoms. This vaccine does not contain thimerosal or other preservatives. Its available only for patients aged 2 to 49.
For: People who cant stand the needle or jet spray or who want to avoid preservatives.
Inactivated shots are usually given with a needle, but Afluria Quadrivalent can be given to adults with a jet injector, which is basically a high-powered spray that penetrates the skin.
For: Needles can be used for everyone aged 6 months and older. The jet spray is approved for adults aged 18 to 64.
Was Thimerosal Used In All Childhood Vaccines
- No. Some other vaccines, including the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine , do not and did not ever contain thimerosal or any preservative. Varicella , inactivated polio , and pneumococcal conjugate vaccines have also never contained thimerosal.
- There is no thimerosal used in the vaccines on the childhood immunization schedule.
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Is Thimerosal Safe For People
- Although no evidence suggests there are safety concerns with thimerosal, vaccine manufacturers have stopped using it as a precautionary measure. The only vaccine that still includes thimerosal as a preservative is the multi-dose inactivated influenza vaccine. There are other formulations of flu vaccine that do not include thimerosal.
- In 1999, the Food and Drug Administration was required by law to assess the amount of mercury in all the products the agency oversees, not just vaccines. The U.S. Public Health Service decided that as much mercury as possible should be removed from vaccines, and thimerosal was the only source of mercury in vaccines.
- The decision to remove it was a made as a precautionary measure to decrease overall exposure to mercury among young infants.
- Thimerosal was removed from all childhood vaccines in 2001 with the exception of inactivated flu vaccine in multi-dose vials. However, thimerosal has been removed from all single-dose preparations of flu vaccine for children and adults. No acceptable alternative preservative has yet been identified for multi-dose flu vaccine vials.
Talking To Your Doctor
Its always a good idea to talk with your doctor, especially if you havent gotten the flu vaccine before or if your health has changed. If you have an allergy or other condition that might make the vaccine risky for you, check with your doctor before getting vaccinated.
Here are a few questions to ask your doctor:
- Is there any reason why I shouldnt get the flu vaccine?
- What side effects might it cause?
- What should I do if I have side effects?
- Should I get the flu shot or nasal mist?
The flu vaccine is considered safe. You cant catch the flu from the vaccine, because the virus in the vaccine has been killed or weakened.
The live vaccine isnt recommended for people with weaker immune systems.
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What Keeps Todays Childhood Vaccines From Becoming Contaminated If They Do Not Contain Thimerosal As A Preservative
- The childhood vaccines that used to contain thimerosal as a preservative are now put into single-dose vials or syringes, so no preservative is needed. In the past, these vaccines were put into multi-dose vials, which could become contaminated when new needles were used to get vaccine out of the vial for each dose.
Every Vaccine Ingredient Serves A Purpose
To provide immunityWe become immune to a disease when our bodies create specific antibodies to fight that disease. Vaccines contain ingredients that help your body build this immunity.
To keep the vaccine safe and long-lastingVaccines need to be safe and effective. Certain ingredients help keep vaccines safe from contamination and toxins. Others, like stabilizers, help vaccines stay effective for a long time.
To make the vaccine more effectiveAll vaccine ingredients help to make a vaccine as effective as possible, while being safe. Ingredients like aluminum salt help boost the bodys response to the vaccine.
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Is There Mercury In Vaccines
For the most part, vaccines are a combination of water with antigens, which are bacterial components that trigger an immune response. But they also contain some ingredients that worry parents. One of those ingredients was thimerosal, a preservative that breaks down into ethylmercury.
Fears about mercury stemmed from research showing that exposure to high doses can cause learning disabilities and damage the brain . There’s also the fear that mercury can compromise the immune system and kidneys. Researchers worried that, since children received multiple thimerosal-containing vaccinations in a short timeframe, their bodies were being over exposed.
Scientists later discovered that the ethyl-based mercury used in vaccines doesn’t pose the same risk as methyl-based mercury . “Studies suggest that this is because the body can excrete ethyl-mercury more easily,” says Dan Salmon, M.D., associate director for policy and behavioral research at the Institute for Vaccine Safety at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in Baltimore.
The multi-dose flu vaccine for children contains a tiny amount of thimerosal, but it’s considered safe. Parents can also opt for the single-dose vaccine instead.
What Are Other Ways I Can Protect Against The Flu
In addition to your yearly flu vaccine, there are a few other things you can do to protect your family and yourself from the flu. There are daily precautions you can take such as limiting contact with sick people as much as possible and washing your hands with soap and water often. If you have received a prescription for flu antiviral medications, it’s important to take them as directed by your healthcare provider.
But remember, the No. 1 way to protect yourself and your family against the flu virus is to get vaccinated every year.
Clinically reviewed and updated June 2021.
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What We Know About Covid
Q: How are COVID-19 and influenza similar and how are they different?
A: COVID-19 and influenza have many similarities, but also many differences.
The main similarities are:
- Both viruses are mostly spread through an airborne route. This means that steps you take to protect yourself from COVID-19, such as social distancing measures and avoiding crowded indoor spaces, will likely reduce your risk of catching influenza as well.
- The initial symptoms of infection have a lot in common. Namely, both often start with upper respiratory symptoms such as cough, runny nose, fatigue, fever, and body aches. This means it will be difficult to tell the two conditions apart, unless laboratory testing is used.
- Both are more likely to cause severe illness in people who are older or frail.
Even though both viruses often cause viral pneumonia, there are significant differences between the two. They are actually quite different types of viruses. The differences include:
- People appear to be infectious for longer, with COVID-19.
- In mild COVID-19 , people seem to be sick for longer than with the flu.
- The antivirals known to be active against influenza do not work against COVID-19.
- Similarly, antivirals that work against COVID, such as Paxlovid, do not work against influenza.
For more on the similarities and differences between influenza and COVID-19:
Do I Need A Preservative
Unless flu vaccination is contraindicated for you, there is no safety-related reason to avoid getting a traditional flu shot.
With that said, if you would prefer to avoid thimerosal, ask your healthcare provider if they have a preservative-free flu vaccine available. Alternatively, you can ask your healthcare provider if FluMist nasal spray vaccine is an option for you.
While the FluMist vaccine is preservative-free, it contains a live weakened virus and should not be used in people with a compromised immune system, children under two years, adults 50 and over, pregnant women, and people with a severe, life-threatening reaction to flu shots or any of their ingredients.
Be aware that most clinics and pharmacies will only have one or two types of vaccine on hand . A special order would need to be placed for you if you would like something different.
Because it takes two weeks for the body to produce enough defensive antibodies, the vaccination should be done early in the season to avoid infection.
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Why Do Some People Worry About Thimerosal In Vaccines
You may have heard that thimerosal has mercury in it. Not all types of mercury are the same. Some types of mercury, like mercury in some kinds of fish, stay in the human body and can make people sick. Thimerosal is a different kind of mercury. It doesnt stay in the body, and is unlikely to make us sick.
Why Is Thimerosal Still In Some Flu Vaccines That Children May Receive
- To produce enough flu vaccine for the entire country, some of it must be put into multi-dose vials. These vials have very tiny amounts of thimerosal as a preservative. This is necessary because each time an individual dose is drawn from a multi-dose vial with a new needle and syringe, there is the potential to contaminate the vial with harmful microbes . So, this preservative is needed to prevent contamination of the vial when individual doses are drawn from it, and keep the children safety who are receiving the flu shot from the multi-dose vial. Children can safely receive flu vaccine that contains thimerosal.
- Flu vaccine that does not contain thimerosal is available in single-dose vials or single-dose syringes. One formulation of single-dose inactivated flu vaccine, Fluvirin, contains trace amounts of thimerosal.
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What To Know About Flu Shots For Older Adults
Q: Is the flu vaccine effective for older adults?
A: You may have heard people say that the flu shot doesnt work in older people. This is not entirely correct.
Now, its true that flu vaccine is usually less effective in older adults because aging immune systems tend to not respond as vigorously to the vaccine. In other words, older adults tend to create fewer antibodies in response to vaccination. So if they are later exposed to flu virus, they have a higher chance of falling ill, compared to younger adults.
But less effective doesnt mean not at all effective. For the 2017-2018 flu season, the CDC estimates that vaccination prevented about 700,000 influenza cases and 65,000 hospitalizations, for adults aged 65 and older.
For more on the effectiveness of influenza vaccination in older adults, see:
To provide more effective vaccination to aging immune systems, vaccine makers have developed stronger vaccines against the flu, which I explain in the next section.
Q: Are there flu shots specifically designed for older adults?
Yes! Over the past several years, vaccine makers have developed vaccines that are designed to work better with an aging immune system. Most research studies to date show that these stimulate aging immune systems to produce more antibodies to influenza. Theres also some evidence that these vaccines reduce the risk of being hospitalized for influenza.
Here’s Why Parents Don’t Need To Worry About Mercury In The Flu Shot And Other Childhood Vaccines
One of the biggest reasons why parents are hesitant to vaccinate their children is fear of mercury in the shots. And thats an understandable argument: for years, vaccines did contain thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative used to thwart the growth of bacteria and fungi in vaccine vials. But thimerosal was removed from most vaccines in 2001, and it has since been shown to have no adverse health effects. To help shed some fears about immunizations, read up on the latest information about mercury in vaccines.
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What Is The Flu
Influenza is a respiratory illness, which means that it affects your airways. It is spread easily from person to person through coughing, sneezing and even talking. When you get the influenza virus, it sometimes takes one to four days before you start noticing symptoms. This means that you could spread the flu to those around you before you even know that you’re sick. Adults may be able to spread the flu for up to seven days after first becoming sick, and children may continue to spread the flu for even longer.
Why Are Preservatives Sometimes Used In Vaccines
Preservatives are used to protect vaccines packaged in multi-dose vials. Each time a vaccine dose is drawn from a multi-dose vial, bacteria or fungi can enter the vial. Receiving a vaccine contaminated with bacteria or fungi can be dangerous. Preservatives are needed to prevent contamination of multi-dose vials each time individual doses are drawn.
Thimerosal use in vaccines and other medical products has a record of being very safe. Data from many studies show no evidence of harm caused by the low doses of thimerosal in vaccines.
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What Are The Side Effects Of Being Vaccinated
You might have some minor side effects after getting a flu shot, including but not limited to:
- Soreness, redness or swelling of the skin where you got the shot
- Low-grade fever
If you feel any of these side effects, don’t worry. You should feel better within 1 to 2 days. If not, please report any side effects to your pharmacist or MinuteClinic provider.
Most Flu Shots Do Not Contain Mercury
Flu season is officially underway in the United States. As of Nov. 2, respiratory viruses, including the flu and respiratory syncytial virus , are currently surging across the country, especially in children and infants.
Since the onset of flu season, the VERIFY team has been receiving a lot of questions about the flu shot, such as whether its safe to get the flu vaccine and COVID-19 booster at the same time it is.
VERIFY viewer Paula wants to know if this years flu shot contains a particular ingredient.
Do flu shots contain mercury? Paula asked our team in a text message.
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