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Fact #21  The LA Times recently reported that at least one vaccine manufacturer, Merck, was well aware of the potential risks from the increase in Thimerosal through vaccines in 1991.
On February 8, 2005, Myron Levin of the Los Angeles Times reported:
"A memo from Merck & Co. shows that, nearly a decade before the first public disclosure, senior executives were concerned that infants were getting an elevated dose of mercury in vaccinations containing a widely used sterilizing agent. The March 1991 memo, obtained by The Times, said that 6-month-old children who received their shots on schedule would get a mercury dose up to 87 times higher than guidelines for the maximum daily consumption of mercury from fish. "When viewed in this way, the mercury load appears rather large," said the memo from Dr. Maurice R. Hilleman, an internationally renowned vaccinologist. It was written to the president of Merck's vaccine division. The memo was prepared at a time when U.S. health authorities were aggressively expanding their immunization schedule by adding five new shots for children in their first six months. Many of these shots, as well as some previously included on the vaccine schedule, contained thimerosal, an antibacterial compound that is nearly 50% ethyl mercury, a neurotoxin."
Fact #22 On July 9, 1999, The Public Health Service and The American Academy of Pediatrics called for the removal of Thimerosal from vaccines as soon as possible but no federal law was created and no recall took place and Thimerosal remained in most vaccines well into 2002.
In their joint statement, the two institutions offered the following:
"...because any potential risk is of concern, the Public Health Service, the American Academy of Pediatrics, 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, the European vaccine manufacturers, and the US FDA which examined the use of thimerosal-containing vaccines produced or sold in European countries."
Media reports often note that mercury was removed from vaccines in 1999. This is simply untrue. The joint statement did not lead to a ban or a recall and Thimerosal remained in many vaccines for children well into 2002.
The subject of the timing of the removal of Thimerosal from vaccines is very confusing. Press releases like this one from Merck in 1999 confused both parents and pediatricians by implying that Thimerosal would be removed from vaccines soon. This memo from the FDA to Congressman Dave Weldon confirms the truth: Thimerosal containing vaccines were available for children with expiration dates into late 2002. Importantly, the FDA's mechanism for enforcing the use of vaccines by expiration dates and tracking the timing of vaccine deployment is non-existent, so it is plausible that Thimerosal-containing vaccines remained in the vaccine supply well into 2003.
Fact #23 Thimerosal is still widely used in a number of children's vaccines, including the flu vaccine.
The majority of the available flu vaccines in the 2004-2005 flu season still contained Thimerosal. Other vaccines in the system still contain Thimerosal, as there has never been a federal ban on Thimerosal. The only way to know if Thimerosal is not in a vaccine is to read the label.
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