Tag: mercury

Which Vaccines Contain Heavy Metals?

Are you worried about heavy metals in vaccines?

Which Vaccines Contain Heavy Metals?

Multi-dose vials of flu vaccine clearly still contain the preservative thimerosal.
Multi-dose vials of flu vaccine clearly still contain the preservative thimerosal.

Believe it or not, your kids aren’t going to be exposed to any heavy metals when they get their routine vaccines.

The closest that they might come would be getting a flu vaccine with thimerosal, as mercury is indeed a heavy metal and thimerosal breaks down to ethylmercury. But then, the great majority of flu vaccines are now thimerosal-free, so they probably won’t.

Even if they did, it is important to note that thimerosal was removed from vaccines as a precaution, not because it was toxic.

What about aluminum?

It is no secret that many vaccines contain aluminum.

“Aluminum is a heavy metal with known neurotoxic effects on human and animal nervous systems. It can be found in the following childhood vaccines – DTaP, Pediarix (DTaP-Hepatitis B-Polio combination), Pentacel (DTaP-HIB-Polio combination), Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenzae B (HIB), Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), and Pneumococcal vaccines.”

NVIC on  Aluminum and Vaccine Ingredients: What Do We Know? What Don’t We Know?

Do you know what we know about aluminum?

It isn’t a heavy metal.

Heavy metals include copper, gold, iron, lead, mercury, platinum, plutonium, silver, tin, and zinc.

Aluminum is classified as a light metal. Other light metals are calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium.

I guess that it makes aluminum sound scarier if you say it is a heavy metal though…

It also make it sound scary if you imply that the aluminum salts in vaccines are neurotoxic. They aren’t.

But what about the idea that vaccines are contaminated with heavy metals?

“Metals including toxic lead contaminate virtually all aluminum adjuvants, a widely-used ingredient of human and animal vaccines, according to a recent study published in the leading journal of the vaccine industry.”

CMSRI on Lead, Iron, Chromium and Other Metals Routinely Contaminate Vaccine Adjuvants, Industry Study Reports

While that was the CMSRI takeaway from the study, Influence of elemental impurities in aluminum hydroxide adjuvant on the stability of inactivated Japanese Encephalitis vaccine, IXIARO, if you actually read it, you find that they found that “all aluminum hydroxide lots examined in this study met” safety guidelines from European agencies (Ph. Eur. 2.4.8) and the United States Pharmacopoeia (USP 231).

And many folks think that a study ‘finding’ contamination by a few Italian scientists, New Quality-Control Investigations on Vaccines: Micro- and Nanocontamination, actually found “that vaccines are incredibly pure.”

Vaccines are safe and necessary.

Don’t let folks scare you from vaccinating and protecting your kids by making you think they contain heavy metals or anything other “toxin.”

What to Know About Heavy Metals in Vaccines

Vaccines do not contain any toxic heavy metals.

More on Heavy Metals in Vaccines

Myths About Thimerosal in Vaccines

Over the years, especially since thimerosal was removed from most vaccines, the myths about thimerosal have surprising been increasing.

“Currently, the actions taken by the vaccine manufacturers, the FDA and the CDC have increased the possible maximum childhood exposure to mercury from vaccines to twice the level that triggered the 1999 call to remove mercury from all vaccines as soon as possible!”

Rev. Lisa K. Sykes on “Ten Lies” Told About Mercury in Vaccines

Of course, none of them are true.

Myths About Thimerosal in Vaccines

To begin with, there was no “call to remove mercury from all vaccines as soon as possible.”

Instead, as a “precautionary measure,” the AAP asked vaccine manufacturers “for a clear commitment and a plan to eliminate or reduce as expeditiously as possible the mercury content of their vaccines.”

“In addition, today most tetanus shots and the multi-dose Sanofi Menomune vaccine that are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still contain 25-micrograms-a-dose mercury.”

Rev. Lisa K. Sykes on “Ten Lies” Told About Mercury in Vaccines

Other myths about thimerosal include that:

  • After “realizing” the amount of mercury in the childhood vaccination schedule recommended by the CDC exceeded all national and global maximum safety limits, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the United States Public Health Service called for the immediate removal of Thimerosal from all vaccines on July 7, 1999. – the amount of thimerosal in the childhood immunization schedule actually only exceeded EPA guidelines and was well below the guidelines of the Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry (ATSDR) or the FDA. Also, since thimerosal-free versions of DTaP and Hib have always been available, only “a minority of infants could receive as much as 187.5 mg of ethylmercury during the first 6 months of life.”
  • children are getting even more mercury from vaccines today than when mercury was removed from vaccines, because pregnant women and kids get flu shots now – this theory doesn’t take into account that thimerosal-free flu vaccines have been available since 2003 and until recently, many kids didn’t get flu shots. For example, during the 2008-09 flu season, only 25% infants and toddlers were fully vaccinated against flu and even fewer pregnant women got flu shots (about 15%). The only way this myth could possibly be true would be if these folks all got a flu vaccine with thimerosal each and every year.
  • even as thimerosal was removed from the DTaP, Hib, and hepatitis B vaccines, kids still got exposed to thimerosal from other vaccines, like Menomume, the meningococcal vaccine –  Although Menomume contained thimerosal, it had only been recommended for high risk kids since it was approved in 1981. It was later replaced by Menactra and Menveo, both of which are thimerosal-free, and which were recommended to all kids as they provided better coverage. Menomume was discontinued in 2017 and it is unlikely that many kids got it once Menactra and Menveo became available.
  • kids still get a tetanus shot with thimerosal – yes, they did, at least until the Tdap vaccines were approved in 2006. Tdap is thimerosal-free.
  • Thimerosal has never undergone even one modern safety test. – although mercury can be toxic, the thimerosal in vaccines has been shown to be safe. That’s not surprising – remember, “the dose makes the poison.”
  • Published studies have shown that Thimerosal and its mercury breakdown product contribute to: Alzheimer’s, Cancer, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Attention Deficit Disorders, Bipolar Disorder, Asthma, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, Arthritis, Food Allergies, Premature Puberty, and Infertility. – thimerosal in vaccines doesn’t cause any of these things, but you can probably find a published study somewhere saying that thimerosal causes Alzheimer’s, cancer, or food allergies, etc., but that just points to how important it is to look to trusted sources of information, as almost anyone can publish a bad study
  • Contrary to sound bites you hear on the nightly news, to be “anti-mercury” is not to be “anti-vaccine.” – if this is true, then why did Robert F. Kennedy, Jr write an editorial against University of Colorado students who passed a resolution for meningococcal B vaccines, which are thimerosal-free? And why push so much propaganda about thimerosal?
  • Corresponding to the sharply increasing level of mercury in the immunization schedule globally, which started in the late 1980’s, there has been an increasing rate of autism among children. This also explains why autism among 40-, 50-, 60-, 70- and 80-year-olds is not epidemic, but rather rare. – this is one of the main problems of the anti-vaccine movement… if you believe that autism is an epidemic, then there must be a cause and it becomes easy to blame vaccines. You also have to ignore the fact that there are plenty of autistic adults.
  • Among the Amish who do not vaccinate, the rate of autism is strikingly low. – there are autistic Amish
  • Unused vaccines with a preservative level of Thimerosal, however, are considered hazardous waste because of their high mercury content. If not injected into patients, discarded vials of these mercury-preserved vaccines, therefore, must be disposed of in steel drums, by law. – this is not true – at all… you also don’t have to call a Hazmat team if you break an unused vaccine vial with thimerosal…
  • …instead of requiring immediate removal, the CDC allowed the pharmaceutical companies to save money by using up their inventories of mercury-containing vaccines. By 2003, the industry had finally used up stocks of thimerosal-containing vaccines and Thimerosal is no longer used in these three vaccines. – the only basis for this statement is that the last thimerosal containing DTaP, Hib, and hepatitis B vaccines expired in 2003, but it is important to keep in mind that most vaccines are used well before their expiration date. In fact, many doctors order vaccines every month, so as to not keep large supplies of vaccines in their office, and since thimerosal-free versions were already available, those likely would have been ordered.
  • The term “trace amounts” means less than 1 microgram (mcg). Thimerosal-containing flu shots contain what in biochemical terms is actually a massive dose of mercury: 25 mcg. – vaccines labeled as having a trace amount of thimerosal have less than or equal to 1mcg, while others are clearly labeled as having up to 25mcg.
  • Why do I call that massive? Because the Environmental Protection Agency’s maximum exposure limits for methyl mercury is .1 microgram per 1 kilogram of bodyweight, which means a baby would have to weigh 550 pounds to safely absorb 25 micrograms of mercury. At these levels, a growing fetus in a mother receiving the flu shot could get up to a million times the EPA’s safe levels. – wait, what? First, that is the maximum recommended daily exposure limit based on the assumption that the exposure to mercury will continue for long periods of time. That’s not the case when a pregnant woman gets a one time flu shot. And it is the pregnant mother who is getting the flu shot, not the baby. Although some thimerosal will cross the placenta, it is still not in levels that will cause harm, so calling the dose massive ends up just being an obvious propaganda tool to scare folks.
The review, Thimerosal and Autism?, explains why autism and mercury poison really don't share symptoms.
The review, Thimerosal and Autism?, explains why autism and mercury poison really don’t share the same symptoms.
  • Autism and mercury poisoning have the same symptoms. – they don’t… In fact, there are many reports of epidemics of mercury poisoning throughout history that weren’t associated with autism, including in Minamata and Niigata, Japan, exposures from mercury in teething powders and worm medicines (pink disease), and food contamination in many countries.

“Yet mercury had long been the every-day treatment of infants at the time of teething in the form of teething powders.”

Ann Dally on The Rise and Fall of Pink Disease

Although it is hard to believe now, mercury wasn’t taken out of teething powders until 1957, after which time pink disease quickly disappeared. Why was mercury in teething powders in the first place? Unlike thimerosal in vaccines, I don’t think it was acting as a preservative, as it sounds like it was present in very high doses. So there was a lot of risk with no benefit.

Sounds like the opposite of what we had with thimerosal in vaccines – lots of benefit (vaccines didn’t get contaminated) with no risk.

But taking thimerosal out of vaccines was risk-free too, wasn’t it?

Nope. That’s another myth.

“Unfortunately, the precautions taken by the AAP and CDC calling for thimerosal removal from vaccines appears to have led to unintended risks. In particular, inappropriate recommendations by autism advocacy groups regarding treatment of autism (e.g., use of chelation) and avoidance of vaccines (e.g., influenza vaccine) may mislead parents to place children at unnecessary risks.”

Hurley et al on Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines and Autism: A Review of Recent Epidemiologic Studies

In addition to anti-vaccine folks continuing to push myths about thimerosal to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids, some missed out on getting vaccinated and caught life-threatening vaccine-preventable diseases.

What to Know About Thimerosal in Vaccines Myths

Don’t believe any of the myths about thimerosal in vaccines. Vaccines are safe and necessary.

More on Thimerosal in Vaccines Myths

Why Does the FDA Warn About Mercury in Fish, but Not Mercury in Flu Shots?

The FDA and EPA began to warn certain high risk groups about eating fish that might be contaminated with high levels of mercury in 2004.

Although it was known that “nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury,” this wasn’t thought to be a health concern for most people. Higher levels of mercury in certain fish could be though, especially for young children, nursing mothers, pregnant women, and women who might become pregnant.

That’s why the EPA and FDA recommended that those high risk groups not eat Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel, or Tilefish (have highest levels of mercury) and limit eating other fish that are lower in mercury.

Why Does the FDA Warn About Mercury in Fish, but Not Mercury in Flu Shots?

So why do experts warn about mercury in fish, but don’t warn about mercury in vaccines?

Trace Amounts on “Ten Lies” Told About Mercury in Vaccines
Trace Amounts thinks that they have uncovered “Ten Lies” about mercury in vaccines

While that is a good question, the most obvious answer is that there are a very limited number of vaccines that you can get that contain any mercury (thimerosal), while if there was no warning, you could theoretically eat a ton of fish that are contaminated with at least some mercury.

And since 2001, thimerosal-free versions of non-flu vaccines have been available. There has also been an increasingly large supply of thimerosal-free flu vaccines available since 2003.

So how much mercury from vaccines could pregnant women and young children really be getting?

Remember, the only routine vaccines that pregnant women get are Tdap (never contained thimerosal) and the flu vaccine. And all of the routine vaccines young children receive are now thimerosal-free, including DTaP, Hib, IPV, Rotavirus, and Prevnar. All children should also get a flu vaccine once they are six months old, but like the flu vaccines for pregnant women, thimerosal-free flu vaccines are available.

Still, if they didn’t get a thimerosal-free flu shot, it would mean that they got the amount of mercury from one flu shot each year, or 25mcg. Some children could get up to 50mcg if it was their first season getting a flu vaccine, as they might need two doses of the flu vaccine.

The FDA and EPA offer very specific recommendations on how much fish to eat to avoid mercury.
The FDA and EPA offer very specific recommendations on how much fish to eat to avoid mercury.

How much mercury do you ingest when you eat fish? It depends on the fish, which is why the recommendations on which fish to eat and avoid are so specific. In general, it can range from 4mcg for salmon, 60mcg for canned albacore tuna and 170 mcg for swordfish.

While you are supposed to avoid the fish with the highest mercury levels, you might be eating the other fish each week, so unless you don’t like to eat fish, it is almost certainly going to quickly add up to much more than you get from your yearly flu vaccine, which you likely avoided anyway by getting a thimerosal-free flu shot.

And with fish, the mercury is in the form of methymercury, 95% of which is absorbed into your bloodstream. In contrast, thimerosal in vaccines breaks down to ethylmercury and is eliminated from your body quicker than methylmercury.

But if fish contains mercury, why not just tell people to avoid eating fish?

“Most fish are an excellent source of high quality protein. Fish are also important sources of selenium, zinc, iodine, iron, and other minerals needed by the body. Fish are natural sources of many B vitamins, and oily fish provide vitamins A and D. Studies with pregnant women have found that the nutritional benefits of fish, like other protein-rich foods, are important for their children’s growth and development during pregnancy and childhood. Most fish are low in fat, and most of the fat that is present in fish is healthy polyunsaturated fat. The polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are also present in many types of fish. Research is still underway to determine the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.”

Questions & Answers from the FDA/EPA Advice on What Pregnant Women and Parents Should Know about Eating Fish

Fish have a lot of important nutrients, so are good to eat. So you balance the benefits of eating fish with the risks of mercury contamination and we get the sensible advice to limit the amount of fish you eat.

When you do the same kind of analysis of the risks and benefits of vaccines, even those with thimerosal, the benefits are still greatly in favor of getting vaccinated to prevent life-threatening infections. Remember, thimerosal was removed from vaccines as a precautionary measure and not because it was proven to be dangerous. In fact, many studies have shown that thimerosal in vaccines is not harmful.

What to Know About Mercury in Fish and Vaccines

Comparing mercury in fish and vaccines is like comparing conventionally grown apples and pears, at least it would be if someone figured out how to make an edible vaccine in the form of a pear.

More on Mercury in Fish and Vaccines

Doing the Math on Kennedy, Vaccines and Mercury

Although most anti-vaccine folks have moved on to aluminum by now, some are still sticking by thimerosal as their favorite “toxin” in vaccines to blame for causing so-called vaccine-induced diseases.

“Well, here are the numbers. And the numbers change every year. I think in 2012, there were 185 million doses of flu doses manufactured in this country. And I think fewer than 10 million were thimerosal-free. Over 90 percent had huge, huge doses of mercury.”

An interview with Robert Kennedy Jr. on vaccines

Really?

Huge, huge doses of mercury?

Thimerosal Timeline

Although it was never actually linked to any significant side effects, as a “precautionary measure,” the AAP recommended that thimerosal (mercury) be removed from childhood vaccines in 1999.

Thimerosal was removed from the hepatitis B, DTaP, and Hib vaccines, the only routinely used, non-flu vaccines that ever had thimerosal, in 2001. It is important to note that thimerosal-free versions of the DTaP and Hib vaccines were already available in the late 1990s though.

By January 2003, remaining stocks of vaccines with thimerosal expired.

Also in 2003, thimerosal-free flu vaccines became available, including thimerosal-free flu shots and FluMist, the nasal spray flu vaccine.

Doing the Math on Kennedy, Vaccines and Mercury

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr seems to get a lot of things wrong.

Is he right about the number of thimerosal-free flu vaccines in 2012?

Let’s do the math.

Ever since thimerosal-free flu vaccines became available in 2003, the supply has increased each year.

  • 2007-08: 112 million doses, with 10-12 million doses of thimerosal-free flu vaccine from Sanofi Pasteur, 7 million doses of thimerosal free FluMist, plus Afluria was thimerosal-free, and flu vaccines with trace thimerosal from Novartis and GSK
  • 2008-09: 110 million doses, with 50 million doses of thimerosal-free or preservative-free (trace thimerosal) influenza vaccine and only 25% infants and toddlers are fully vaccinated against flu
  • 2009-10: 114 million doses, with 50 million doses of thimerosal-free or preservative-free (trace thimerosal) influenza vaccine
  • 2010-11: 155 million doses, with 74 million doses of thimerosal-free or preservative-free (trace thimerosal) influenza vaccine
  • 2011-12: 132 million doses, with 79 million doses of thimerosal-free or preservative-free (trace thimerosal) influenza vaccine
  • 2012-13: 134 million doses, with 62 million doses of thimerosal-free or preservative-free (trace thimerosal) influenza vaccine, including 13 to 14 million doses of FluMist. While 76% of infants and toddlers were vaccinated, only 50% of pregnant women got a flu shot.
  • 2013-14: 134 million doses, with 62 million doses of thimerosal-free or preservative-free (trace thimerosal) influenza vaccine. 13 million doses of FluMist.
  • 2014-15: 147 million doses, with 98 million doses of thimerosal-free or preservative-free (trace thimerosal) influenza vaccine. 14 to 15 million doses of FluMist.
  • 2015-16: 146 million doses, with 116-118 million doses of thimerosal-free or preservative-free (trace thimerosal) influenza vaccine
  • 2016-17: 145 million doses, with 120 million doses of thimerosal-free or preservative-free (trace thimerosal) influenza vaccine
  • 2017-18: 155 million doses, with 130 million doses of thimerosal-free or preservative-free (trace thimerosal) influenza vaccine

So Kennedy was wildly wrong about the number of thimerosal-free flu vaccines that were available in 2012. And he is certainly wrong about the number of thimerosal-free flu vaccines that are available today.

“Over 90 percent had huge, huge doses of mercury. Not trace amounts as the industry likes to claim. Trace amounts means less than 1 microgram. They contain 25 micrograms, which is 25 times trace amount and over 100 times what EPA’s safe exposure levels are. … So today, in the last three or four years, that number has been reduced to 48 million.”
Which number has been reduced to 48 million?
“I believe this year there were 150, around 150 million flu doses manufactured and 48 million of those, or a third, were loaded with mercury.”

An interview with Robert Kennedy Jr. on vaccines

What about his theory about the way the “industry” uses the term trace amounts?

The thimerosal content of flu vaccines has always been clearly labeled, whether it is 25mcg, or less than 1mcg, a trace amount.
The thimerosal content of flu vaccines has always been clearly labeled, whether it is 25mcg, or less than 1mcg, a trace amount.

There has never been a conspiracy to hide the thimerosal content of flu shots or any other vaccines. Those with trace amounts of thimerosal clearly have less than or equal to 1mcg per dose. Others were either thimerosal free or contained a standard amount of thimerosal, 25mcg.

Not surprisingly, this isn’t the first time Kennedy has tried to mislead people about  vaccines.

“There is no question that meningococcal meningitis is a serious disease that can cause death and disability, but we need to ensure that the solution is not worse than the problem. There is every reason to believe that mandatory meningococcal B vaccines for every college student could kill more students than the disease they protect against. Before we relinquish our rights, pay millions and sicken students, we should do the math.”

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.: Doing the math on meningitis vaccinations

A few years ago, Kennedy responded to a resolution that had been passed by the University of Colorado-Boulder student government about new meningococcal B vaccines.

Students at the University of Colorado Boulder passed a resolution supporting menB vaccines.
Students at the University of Colorado Boulder passed a resolution supporting MenB vaccines.

For some reason, he devoted a good deal of time talking about the “hefty mercury load” that kids could get from Menomune, a vaccine that doesn’t cover the meningococcal B strain and which has largely been replaced by the newer Menactra (2006) and Menveo (2010) vaccines. In fact, Menomune was discontinued last year.

What to Know About Robert F Kennedy, Jr

Kennedy seems to mislead people about thimerosal and vaccines at every opportunity he can.

More on Robert F Kennedy, Jr

Misdiagnosis of Kids with Autism and Vaccine Injury

Awareness of autism has greatly increased in recent years.

Some people are even suggesting that we have gotten to the point where autism is being over-diagnosed.

Remember when folks got upset because Seinfeld said that he might be on the autism spectrum?

Misdiagnosis of Kids with Autism and Vaccine Injury

Although autism might be over-diagnosed in some situations, it is just as likely to be under-diagnosed in others. That’s especially true when you hear about misdiagnosed autistic adults. No, not adults who were misdiagnosed with autism, but adults who are actually autistic, but were misdiagnosed with other conditions, like schizophrenia, anxiety, or personality disorders.

It is also probable that autism is actually sometimes misdiagnosed. That’s right, there are some other conditions that can be confused or misdiagnosed as autism.

“Generation Rescue believes that childhood neurological disorders such as autism, Asperger’s, ADHD/ADD, speech delay, sensory integration disorder, and many other developmental delays are all misdiagnoses for mercury poisoning.”

When Generation Rescue, Jenny McCarthy‘s autism organization, was founded, they believed that autism was caused by mercury poisoning. Actually, not just caused by, but that autism actually was a “misdiagnosis for mercury poisoning.”

No one really seems to believe that anymore, but there are some other conditions that can legitimately be misdiagnosed as autism.

Many people see Jenny McCarthy battling doctors to save or recover her son as being anti-autism.
Some people say that Jenny McCarthy’s son might have been misdiagnosed with autism and might actually have LKS instead.

Consider Landau-Kleffner syndrome (LKS), which is also known as Progressive Epileptic Aphasia or Aphasia with Convulsive Disorder. Children with LKS develop normally, but then have:

  • a severe regression in language functioning, with a progressive loss of speech, especially receptive speech or understanding what other people say
  • seizures, including focal motor seizures, focal seizures that become tonic-clonic seizures, atypical absence seizures, and atonic seizures.
  • behavioral problems, including having poor attention, being hyperactive and aggressive, and having anxiety

LKS can be difficult to diagnose because the seizures can be subclinical (only recognized on an EEG) at first, so the child may have already regressed by the time they have obvious seizures. And they might improve as the seizures are treated.

“After 35 years as a speech pathologist, I’ve seen many children with a diagnosis of autism that turned out to be a combination of language delay, sensory issues and apraxia.”

What If the Diagnosis of Autism Is Wrong?

Other conditions can have signs and symptoms that overlap with autism too (although they also sometimes occur with autism), making a misdiagnosis possible, including:

  • anxiety
  • childhood apraxia of speech – children with this motor speech disorder have a hard time talking
  • language delays
  • selective mutism – only affects children in some situations, like at school, but they talk well at home with close family
  • sensory issues
  • 22q11.2 deletion syndrome – a chromosomal disorder that causes many signs and symptoms, including some that resemble autism

But how can a child be misdiagnosed with autism?

“…inexperienced professionals, with narrow, preconceived notions of what ASD is, may place too much weight on symptoms that although associated with ASD, are not necessarily definitive of ASD. In other cases, and as noted above, problems in social relatedness and social interaction observed during the diagnostic process, may be artifacts of the unfamiliarity and artificiality of the setting itself.”

Barry M. Prizant On the Diagnosis and Misdiagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder

It shouldn’t be hard to imagine that a child could be misdiagnosed with autism, especially as there are more children with suspected autism, including children getting screened at an earlier age, meaning that there is a big demand for autism evaluations.

“Ideally, the definitive diagnosis of an ASD should be made by a team of child specialists with expertise in ASDs.”

AAP on the Identification and Evaluation of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders

Unfortunately, that can mean that some of those evaluations are being done by health care providers without any added expertise in formally diagnosing autism, including some pediatricians, neurologists, counselors, and social workers, etc.

While many health care providers can evaluate and diagnose autism, from a child neurologist, developmental pediatrician, and child psychiatrist to a child psychologist, speech-language pathologist, pediatric occupational therapist, and social worker, they should all have expertise in autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).

Getting the Diagnosis Right

Why is it so important to get the diagnosis right?

Most importantly, a correct diagnosis means that a child will get the right treatment as early as possible. Also though, in an age when some parents still try to associate vaccines with autism, a misdiagnosis can be especially problematic, perhaps leading to a vaccine injury story.

Remember back in the 1970s when many parents blamed the DPT vaccine for causing their kids to have seizures and brain damage? We now know that some, if not many, of them had Dravet syndrome, a genetic condition (SCN1A mutation) in which children develop severe, fever-related seizures before their first birthday.

“We present here the cases of 5 children who presented for epilepsy care with presumed parental diagnoses of alleged vaccine encephalopathy caused by pertussis vaccinations in infancy. Their conditions were all rediagnosed years later, with the support of genetic testing, as Dravet syndrome.”

Reyes et al on Alleged cases of vaccine encephalopathy rediagnosed years later as Dravet syndrome

In addition to the seizures, these children have developmental delays and autism-like characteristics. They don’t have a “vaccine encephalopathy.” Just like autistic kids don’t have mercury poisoning or any kind of vaccine damage.

What to Know About the Misdiagnosis of Kids with Autism and Vaccine Injury

To help avoid a misdiagnosis, if possible, a team of child specialists with expertise in evaluating kids with autism spectrum disorders should see your child with suspected autism.

More on Misdiagnosis of Kids with Autism and Vaccine Injury

Which Vaccines Contain Antifreeze?

If you are already on the fence about vaccines, there are probably some you want to avoid…

For many parents, that likely means skipping all of the vaccines with toxins, like antifreeze.

Which Vaccines Contain Antifreeze?

Do vaccines really contain antifreeze, the stuff we put in our cars?

“Too many too soon. When I was on this show before, I said we need an alternate schedule. This is too much. We need to get rid of the toxins, the mercury — which I am so tired of everyone saying it’s been removed. It has not been removed from the shots. We’ll get into that later. Aluminum, ether, antifreeze — these are toxic ingredients in shots that need to be removed.”

Jenny McCarthy on Larry King Live

Jenny McCarthy warned folks about antifreeze in vaccines when she appeared on Larry King Live on April 2, 2008 to promote her book, Louder Than Words: A Mother’s Journey in Healing Autism.

“We are treating vaccine injury and the kids are getting better.”

Jenny McCarthy

First things first – autism is not a vaccine injury.

Jenny McCarthy is also wrong about her ideas of toxins in vaccines.

Besides the fact that vaccine ingredients aren’t toxic, the last remaining non-flu vaccines with the preservative thimerosal, a form of mercury, expired in 2003. And there have been plenty of thimerosal free flu vaccines available for kids and pregnant women since then.

Aluminum is used in many vaccines, but again, it is not toxic.

Ether? There is no ether in vaccines. Remember, ether, or diethyl ether was once used as a general anesthetic. At least it was until we developed anesthetics that didn’t blow up.

And antifreeze?

Why do so many anti-vaccine folks think that antifreeze, or ethylene glycol, is an ingredient in vaccines?

It isn’t. Not in any vaccine.

Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey went on a mission to Green Our Vaccines in 2008.
Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey went on a mission to Green Our Vaccines in 2008 and warn folks about toxins in vaccines, like antifreeze and ether.

Remember that toxic antifreeze, ethylene glycol, has a sweet taste, which helped contribute to it harming so many kids. You had a toxic substance that tasted good and which was sometimes stored inappropriately in the garage or kitchen cabinets.

Fortunately, ethylene glycol isn’t used as much as it used to be. Many people now use propylene glycol, which is considered to be a non-toxic antifreeze. Propylene glycol is not used in vaccines either.

Polyethylene glycol (PEG), which is also used in common laxatives, has been used to inactivate flu vaccines and was found in residual amounts in some of those flu vaccines.

And some vaccines do contain 2-phenoxyethanol. Another name for 2-phenoxyethanol is ethylene glycol monophenyl ether. A similar sounding name doesn’t make it the same substance though.

2-phenoxyethanol is used as a stabilizer or preservative in some vaccines.

But neither polyethylene glycol nor 2-phenoxyethanol are antifreeze and neither are toxic at doses present in vaccines.

What To Know About Vaccines with Antifreeze

Vaccines are safe and necessary and do not contain antifreeze or any other ingredients that are toxic.

More on Vaccines with Antifreeze

Vaccines and the HAZMAT Team Myth

Do unused vaccines need to be disposed of as hazardous waste?

If you drop a vaccine vial and it breaks, do you need to call in a HAZMAT team to clean it up?

If a HAZMAT team shows up a pediatricians office, it is probably because someone got sick from fumes - from burned popcorn...
If a HAZMAT team shows up a pediatricians office, it is probably because someone got sick from fumes – from burned popcorn… Photo by Kathy Nellis Chastney

Have you heard any of these anti-vaccine myths?

Would you be scared to vaccinate your kids if you had?

Vaccines and the HAZMAT Team Myth

While spilling elemental or metallic mercury, like by breaking a mercury filled glass thermometer (about 500mg of mercury), could release dangerous mercury vapors that need to be cleaned up carefully, vaccines never contained this type of elemental mercury that could vaporize like that.

And the amount of thimerosal or ethylmercury that used to be contained in vaccines, before it was removed beginning in 2000, was very small, even in multi-dose vial of vaccines.

Believe it or not, kids used to play with metallic mercury...
Believe it or not, kids used to play with metallic mercury… Photo by Bionerd (CC BY 3.0)

While you should be concerned if you drop a fluorescent light bulb in front of your kids, you don’t have to be if someone drops a vaccine vial.

And that being said, you don’t have to call a HAZMAT team if you break a CFL or other mercury containing light bulb, even though they might contain about 4,000mcg of mercury. As a precaution, you just let the room air out for out 10 minutes and then you carefully clean it up.

You don’t even have to call a HAZMAT team if you break a mercury thermometer, which can contain up to about 500,000mcg of mercury! Just let the area air out and then follow instructions to carefully clean it up.

How much mercury is in a typical multi-dose vaccine vial?

None.

But those that still contain thimerosal can contain up to 250mcg of ethylmercury per 10 dose vial. That’s about 6% of the amount of mercury that is in the light bulb (and 0.05% of the amount in the thermometer) and it is mixed with other ingredients, so you don’t have to worry about it being released as a mercury vapor.

And since you don’t have to call a HAZMAT team for the much larger quantities of metallic mercury in light bulbs and thermometers, why would you ever think you would have to for vaccine vials, which don’t even contain metallic mercury that can become a vapor that you can inhale?!?

Vaccines as Hazardous Waste

But if you don’t need a HAZMAT team, then how do you get rid of unused vaccines?

“In general, most empty vaccine vials are not considered hazardous or pharmaceutical waste and do not require disposal in a biomedical waste container. However, requirements for medical waste disposal are regulated by state environmental agencies so you should contact your immunization program or state environmental agency to ensure that your disposal procedures are in compliance with state and federal regulations.”

CDC on Vaccine Storage and Handling

It depends.

Still, most can be thrown away as medical waste.

Those that contain a preservative, like thimerosal, usually need to be thrown away in a hazardous waste container and disposed of through a hazardous waste disposal company.

Hazardous waste? Wait, doesn’t that mean HAZMAT?

No, but that’s where the myth likely comes from. Remember, you’re not supposed to throw out old CFLs in the trash either.

In the real world, most unused vaccines that are expired are simply returned to the manufacturer.

While having to deal with a hazardous waste disposal company sounds like a big deal, it is important to remember that almost all vaccines are now preservative free. The flu shot may still contain thimerosal, but the great majority,  at least 130 million doses, were preservative free this year.

So, few pediatricians likely have to deal with vaccines with preservatives or hazardous waste disposal companies. And hopefully they don’t have any old mercury thermometers lying around either.

That just leaves these myths about vaccines which never seem to go away…

What to Know About Vaccines and the HAZMAT Team Myth

Having to call a HAZMAT team to clean up after a broken vaccine vial is another myth about vaccines that is simply meant to scare you away from vaccinating and protecting your kids.

More on Vaccines and the HAZMAT Team Myth