For those of us who grew up watching ER, Mark Green is a household name.
But that’s not the Mark Green I’m talking about…
Who Is Mark Green?
Mark Green is a soon-to-be congressman, recently elected for Tennessee’s Seventh Congressional District.
A Republican, he is also a doctor. Specifically, he became a Army special operations flight surgeon after completing a residency in emergency medicine.
Of note, Dr. Green has also made horrible statements about transgender people, saying that they have a disease and that they are an evil that must be crushed.
Although his previous statements led him to withdraw as Trump’s pick for Army Secretary, that didn’t keep folks in Tennessee from sending him to Congress.
And now we have his comments about vaccines and autism…
At a recent town hall meeting in Tennessee, Green said:
“Let me say this about autism,” Green said. “I have committed to people in my community, up in Montgomery County, to stand on the CDC’s desk and get the real data on vaccines. Because there is some concern that the rise in autism is the result of the preservatives that are in our vaccines.
“As a physician, I can make that argument and I can look at it academically and make the argument against the CDC, if they really want to engage me on it,” Green said.
Has he apologized?
Despite some saying that he has walked back those claims, his main response has been that his comments had been “misconstrued” and that “I’ve vaccinated my kids and let others know they need to vaccinate theirs too.”
“There appears to be some evidence that as vaccine numbers increase, rates of autism increase,” Green said. “We need better research, and we need it fast. We also need complete transparency of any data. Vaccines are essential to good population health. But that does not mean we should not look closely at the correlation for any causation.”
Except for when he doubled down on his statements trying to associate vaccines with autism…
Statements which seemed to cause the Tennessee chapter of the AAP and the Tennessee Department of Health to issue statements of their own.
“Vaccines do not cause autism.”
Tennessee Department of Health Statement on Immunizations
So, is he going to really apologize for his comments, and perhaps learn a bit more about vaccines, vaccine-preventable disease, and autism?
As a pediatrician who has always fully vaccinated and protected his own kids, I didn’t totally understand what it meant when my first parents told me that they were pro-safe vaccine.
If they were interested in safe vaccines, I thought, why not get their kids vaccinated and protected? After all, vaccines are safe! Their baby was due to get several very safe vaccines at her upcoming two-month checkup.
I eventually got an answer.
“You don’t have to dig far to know that vaccines have caused tremendous harm. Have they had benefits? Absolutely. Which is why I remain somewhat on the neutral side in saying that I am not anti-vaccine,” said Dr. Paul Thomas. “I’m pro-safe vaccines. I’ve progressed along to the point where I now don’t believe there is such a thing.”
Folks who say that they are pro-safe vaccines typically:
“Pro-Safe Vaccine” Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means
Are you starting to see the problem with folks who say that they are pro-safe vaccines now?
“I’m not for starting an epidemic of another disease. We just want there to be some type of conversation, once. Sit down with our side, with our doctors and scientists, to take a look at what we’re talking about. We’re not an anti-vaccine movement. We’re pro-safe-vaccine schedule. Until we have that conversation, people are going to think it’s an anti- and pro- side.”
“In our community we say, “Yeah.” We firmly believe the cause of the epidemic of autism is due to a vaccine injury and/or other environmental exposures — pesticides also. But what on this earth we all kind of share the most is vaccines.”
Right. So she is not anti-vaccine, but she thinks that vaccines injure people and have caused and epidemic of autism?
And that’s where her pro-safe vaccine schedule comes in…
And we’re saying: “Delay them. Delay them till age 2. Skip some that you might not need.”
Like all of the other alternative vaccine schedules out there, Jenny McCarthy’s pro-safe vaccine schedule had no evidence that it was safe or effective.
And that gets to the root of the issue. We don’t know what causes autism, so it must be vaccines.
“To our community, Andrew Wakefield is Nelson Mandela and Jesus Christ rolled up into one.”
J. B. Handley
But what about the folks who have moved beyond listening to Jenny McCarthy and being concerned about autism?
You know the story about vaccines and thimerosal, right?
Are you sure?
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.
That’s not when the hype over thimerosal started though.
A few years before that, in 1997, an amendment to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Modernization Act called on the FDA to compile a list of foods and drugs with added mercury.
“At the time the FDA Modernization Act was passed, it was recommended that infants receive 3 different vaccines that contained thimerosal: diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis (DTaP), hepatitis B, and Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib). Infants who received all of these vaccines could have been exposed to a cumulative dose of mercury as high as 187.5 μg by 6 months of age. This value exceeded guidelines recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) but did not exceed those recommended by the Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry (ATSDR) or the FDA.”
Offit et al on Addressing Parents’ Concerns: Do Vaccines Contain Harmful Preservatives, Adjuvants, Additives, or Residuals?
And it was found that in some circumstances, infants could get 187.5 μg of mercury from vaccines by 6 months of age, which exceeded some, but not all regulatory guidelines.
Which regulatory guidelines?
EPA – 89 µg
ATSDR – 266 µg
FDA – 354 µg
That led to the recommendation from the AAP, in July 1999, to remove thimerosal from vaccines, including the hepatitis B, DTaP, and Hib vaccines, the only routinely used, non-flu vaccines that had ever had thimerosal. Specifically, 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.”
“There is a significant safety margin incorporated into all the acceptable mercury exposure limits. Furthermore, there are no data or evidence of any harm caused by the level of exposure that some children may have encountered in following the existing immunization schedule. Infants and children who have received thimerosal-containing vaccines do not need to be tested for mercury exposure.”
Notice to Readers: Thimerosal in Vaccines: A Joint Statement of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Public Health Service
It is important to note that thimerosal-free versions of the DTaP and Hib were already available at the time though.
So we had:
DTP vaccines – contained 25μg thimerosal, but had largely been replaced by DTaP vaccines at this point
Infanrix – a DTaP vaccine that never contained thimerosal since it was first approved in 1997 (most folks incorrectly state that Infanrix first contained trace amounts of thimerosal)
Tripedia – a DTaP vaccine that was first approved in 1992 and did contain 25μg thimerosal, a thimerosal-free formulation became available in March 2001 – it was discontinued in 2011
Acel-Imune – a DTaP vaccine that was approved in 1991 and did contain 25μg thimerosal, it was discontinued in 2001
Certiva – a DTaP vaccine that was approved in 1998 and did contain 25μg thimerosal, it was discontinued in 2000
TriHIBit – a DTaP/Hib combination vaccine that was approved in 1997 and did contain 25μg thimerosal, it was discontinued in 2011
Tetramune – a DTP/Hib combination vaccine that was approved in 19 and did contain 25μg thimerosal, it was later discontinued
OmniHib – a Hib vaccine that never contained thimerosal since it was approved in 1993
ActHIB – a Hib vaccine that never contained thimerosal since it was approved in 1993
ProHIBIT – the first Hib conjugate vaccine licensed in 1987, it contained 25μg thimerosal
PedvaxHIB – a Hib vaccine that never contained thimerosal since it was approved in 1989
HibTITER – a Hib vaccine that never contained thimerosal since it was approved in 1988, except in multidose vials (25μg thimerosal)
Comvax – a Hib/hepatitis B combination vaccine that never contained thimerosal
Recombivax HB – a hepatitis B vaccine with 12.5μg thimerosal that was approved in September 1983, but a thimerosal-free formulation became available in September 1999
Engerix B – a hepatitis B vaccine with 12.5μg thimerosal that was approved in 1989, but a form with only a trace amount of thimerosal became available in March 2000, followed by a thimerosal-free formulation in January 2007
And of course, the other vaccines that younger kids got at the time never contained thimerosal, including hepatitis A, MMR, Varivax, polio, and Prevnar.
By January 2003, remaining stocks of vaccines with thimerosal expired.
It wasn’t that infants were getting exposed to thimerosal in vaccines, but rather that they might get exposed to too much thimerosal.
Looking back at the available vaccines at the time, it is fairly obvious that most infants didn’t get that much thimerosal though, as there were already plenty of thimerosal-free versions of all routinely used vaccines. To get to the higher doses that some folks were concerned about, they would have to get the hepatitis B vaccine, plus thimerosal containing versions of both DTaP and Hib, and a flu shot.
Because young, otherwise healthy children are at increased risk for influenza-related hospitalization, influenza vaccination of healthy children aged 6-23 months is recommended.
Also, keep in mind that it wasn’t until 1991 that hepatitis B and Hib vaccines were added to the immunization schedule to be given to all infants.
And many kids didn’t get flu shots yet.
Remember, it was until the 2004-05 flu season that we started to see strong recommendations to give flu shots to anyone who wasn’t at high risk for complications from the flu. And by that time, thimerosal free flu shots were beginning to appear.
Still, the most important takeaway from all of this is that even though thimerosal was removed from vaccines, it was done as a precautionary measure and not because these kids were harmed. In fact, some kids were harmed in the process, especially as some infants didn’t get their newborn hepatitis B vaccine and at least one went on to get a fatal hepatitis B infection.
What to Know About Vaccines and Thimerosal
Even at the height of the thimerosal scare, most vaccines didn’t contain thimerosal.
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.”
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.
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.
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.