Tag: Robert F Kennedy

Those Times Alternative Medicine Got It Wrong

Anti-vaccine folks like to use the fallacy that they don’t vaccinate their kids because sometimes science and doctors have been wrong in the past.

They instead turn to alternative medicine when their kids get sick and for their preventative care.

Those Times Alternative Medicine Got It Wrong

While it is true that science gets it wrong sometimes, these people seem to fail to consider that alternative medicine does too.

“…there’s no such thing as conventional or alternative or complementary or integrative or holistic medicine. There’s only medicine that works and medicine that doesn’t. And the best way to sort it out is by carefully evaluating scientific studies – not by visiting Internet chat rooms, reading magazine articles, or talking to friends.”

Paul Offit, MD on Do You Believe in Magic

More than that, they hardly ever get it right.

Remember the teen with osteosarcoma who died after he was treated with shark cartilage instead of chemotherapy?
Remember the teen with osteosarcoma who died after he was treated with shark cartilage instead of chemotherapy?

Need some examples?

  • Ayurvedic treatments can be contaminated with toxic metals
  • biomed treatments for autism – from restrictive diets and chelation to coffee and bleach enemas, these “cures” and treatments have not been shown to be safe, are sometimes known to be dangerous, and don’t even work
  • Cannabis Oil for kids with cancer – while marijuana-derived products might help some medical conditions, it doesn’t cure cancer
  • chiropractic neck manipulation of newborns and infants has no benefits and has caused deaths
  • chronic Lyme disease is not a recognized condition in modern medicine, but that doesn’t keep some ‘Lyme literate’ practitioners from recommending and charging patients for all sorts of unnecessary and sometimes harmful “treatments”
  • faith healing is still allowing children to die of very treatable conditions, from diabetes and appendicitis to common infections and premature babies
  • Gerson protocol – often discussed with other forms of cancer quackery this “radical nutritional program combined with purges (particularly coffee enemas)” is believed by some to cure cancer – it doesn’t
  • HIV denialism – yes, this is a thing, and tragically took the life of Christine Maggiore, her daughter, and many others who eventually died of AIDS
  • homemade baby formula – notorious for leaving out important nutrients, from iron vitamin D to enough calories for a growing baby
  • Hoxsey treatment – a natural treatment for cancer that has been around since the 1950s and has never been shown to work, except in people who never actually had cancer
  • laetrile for cancer – in the late-1970s, kids with treatable forms of cancer had parents who were convinced that this latest fad cure was better. It wasn’t.
  • naturopathy – although mostly looked at as a holistic alternative to other providers, some of these treatments include vitamin injections, hydrogen peroxide injections, and alternative cancer therapies
  • shark cartilage – this was the fad cancer cure in the 1990s that was killing kids who’s parents sought alternative cancer treatments. It didn’t work.

What’s the harm with these treatments?

Many, like Acupuncture, Homeopathy, Reiki, and Reflexology, etc., aren’t necessarily dangerous on their own. In fact, most don’t do anything at all, but they can lead people away from real treatments. And that essentially leaves people untreated.

Getting a fake treatment might not be a big deal when it is a condition that can go away on its own, like when Angelina Jolie talked about getting acupuncture when she had Bell’s Palsy, but it often leads to disastrous consequences when a life-threatening condition goes untreated.

Many people who push these alternative “treatments” often also recommend against standard treatments, like vitamin K shots for newborns, RhoGAM shots for their moms, and vaccines.

Those Times Anti-Vaccine Experts Got It Wrong

It shouldn’t be surprising that many of the folks who think that vaccines are dangerous, aren’t necessary, or that they don’t even work also believe in holistic or alternative treatments.

It also shouldn’t be surprising that they are also wrong a lot:

  • Meryl Dorey – equates vaccination with rape, something many of her followers aren’t even comfortable with
  • Mark and David Geier – this father and son pair are infamous for pushing a chemical castration treatment (Lupron) for autistic children, a treatment that led to Mark Geier losing his medical license (he’s a geneticist) in several states.
  • Jay Gordon, MD – once made the comment that “Heaven help us if we have a generation of kids who get a hepatitis B vaccine and a HPV vaccine and they think that now unprotected sex is okay…” Not surprisingly, studies have found that this doesn’t happen. In fact, teen pregnancy rates are at their lowest levels ever.
  • Suzanne Humphries, MD – a nephrologist who became a homeopath and now pushes anti-vaccine talking points, believes that vaccines don’t work and that polio never really disappeared, and that we don’t “see it anymore” because we changed its name to acute flaccid paralysis.
  • Robert F. Kennedy, Jr – continues to push the idea that thimerosal in vaccines is causing an autism epidemic.
  • Neil Z. Miller – a psychologist who has written many anti-vax books, gives lectures at chiropractic associations, and published his daughter’s book, Ambassadors Between Worlds, Intergalactic Gateway to a New Earth, which describes how they are both able to talk to intergalatic beings because she has been doing it for multiple lifetimes. No word yet if folks from the Pleiadians vaccinate their kids…
  • Tetyana Obukhanych, MD – the Harvard trained immunologist who believes that Immunology has no theoretical or evidence-based explanation for immunity.
  • Viera Scheibner – the micropaleontologist who thinks that getting a vaccine-preventable disease is good for kids, that vaccines are contaminated with amoebas, and that they cause SIDS and shaken baby syndrome
  • Bob Sears, MD – infamous for his alternative vaccine schedule that was never tested for safety or efficacy, he and now rallies folks against California’s new vaccine law
  • Stephanie Seneff – the MIT doctor (she has a doctorate in electrical engineering) who thinks that half of kids will have autism in eight years and that glyphosate causes everything from autism to school shootings and terrorist bombings.
  • Yehuda Shoenfeld, MD – an immunologist who heads the Zabludowicz Center for Autoimmune Diseases and is on the scientific advisory board for the Children’s Medical Safety Research Institute. He is the latest to blame adjuvants for causing disease – his Autoimmune Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants (ASIA), which is often described as being a “basically a made-up syndrome that isn’t generally accepted.”
  • Sherri Tenpenny, DO – described as an anti-vax “expert” whose advise is “chock full of vaccine pseudoscience.” Once board certified in emergency medicine, Dr. Tenpenny now sells DVDs and supplements on her website, speaks at chiropractic health events, and provides holistic medical care. In a rant about freedom of choice in vaccination, she talks about General Robert E. Lee, Southern war hero and postwar icon of the “Lost Cause of the Confederacy,” the extinction of humanity, and about slavery and eight veils that must be pierced if you want to see what is really going on in the world – that the Illuninati and other secret organizations control us and that they are being controlled by time traveling dragons, lizards, and aliens.
  • Tim O’Shea, DC – a chiropractor, he speaks at anti-vax conferences and wrote an anti-vaccination book called The Sanctity of Human Blood: Vaccination is not Immunization. Dr. O’Shea does not believe that germs make us sick (germ theory denialism), thinks that vaccines cause peanut allergies, and he sells supplements and seminars.
  • Kelly Brogan, MD – a holistic psychiatric who recommends that patients wean off their prescribed medications and has talked about HIV denialism.
  • Erin Elizabeth – is pushing the idea that holistic practitioners are being murdered

And of course there is Andrew Wakefield – his scandal and MMR-autism fraud is well known.

Are these folks ever right?

Only if you buy into their anti-vaccine talking points.

What to Know About When Alternative Medicine Was Wrong

Alternative medicine is rarely right, and that can have life-threatening consequences when it leads folks to reject traditional treatments when they are really sick.

More on When Alternative Medicine Was Wrong

Anti-Vaccine Websites

Anti-vaccine websites are usually easy to spot.

They are typically filled with vaccine injury stories and articles about how vaccines are filled with poison (they aren’t), don’t really work (they do), and aren’t even needed (they certainly are).

And many will try to sell you fake vaccine detox kits and autism cures at the same time they are making you terrified about vaccines.

Anti-Vaccine Websites

All of the organizations that help autistic people agree that there is no association between vaccines and autism.
Most of these sites continue to push the idea that vaccines are connected to autism, even though all studies, and all major autism associations that actually help autistic kids say they aren’t.

Tragically, the pseudo-scientific arguments on many anti-vaccine websites can sometimes be persuasive, especially if you don’t understand that they are mostly the same old arguments that the anti-vaccine movement has been using for over 200 years to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

Sites that are considered anti-vaccine by most people and that push propaganda and myths include:

  • Age of Autism
  • Child Health Safety (The facts about vaccine safety your government wont give you)
  • The Children’s Medical Safety Research Institute
  • Collective Evolution
  • Cure Zone (educating instead of medicating)
  • David Avocado Wolfe
  • Fearless Parent
  • Focus for Health
  • GreenMedInfo (the science of natural healing)
  • The Healthy Home Economist
  • Immunity Education Group
  • Immunity Resource Foundation
  • InfoWars
  • International Medical Council on Vaccination
  • Kelly Brogan, MD
  • Lew Rockwell
  • Living Whole
  • Mercola
  • Modern Alternative Mama
  • Moms Across America
  • National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC)
  • Natural News
  • Medical Academy of Pediatric Specials Needs
  • Physicians for Informed Consent
  • safeMinds
  • SaneVax
  • Talk About Curing Autism (TACA)
  • The Thinking Moms’ Revolution
  • Thinktwice Global Vaccine Institute
  • Vaccination Information Network
  • Vaccination Liberation
  • Vaccine Awareness Network
  • Vactruth
  • Vaxxter
  • Weston A. Price Foundation
  • World Mercury Project

If you were influenced about vaccines from one or more of these websites, consider doing a little more research.

Get educated and understand that vaccines are safe and necessary, with few risks and many benefits. Learn to think critically, be more skeptical about the things you see and read about vaccines, and overcome your biases.

What to Know About Anti-Vaccine Websites

Anti-vaccine websites use misinformation about vaccines, pseudoscience, conspiracy theories, propaganda, and a lot of fear to scare you away from vaccinating and protecting your kids.

More on Anti-Vaccine Websites

Retracted Anti-Vaccine Studies

Everyone knows that Andy Wakefield‘s fraudulent MMR study was retracted.

Andrew Wakefield was the lead author on his retracted paper.
Andrew Wakefield was the lead author on his retracted paper.

That’s the study that got folks scared into thinking that vaccines are associated with autism.

Surprisingly, it’s not the only one…

Retracted Anti-Vaccine Studies

Actually, it shouldn’t be surprising at all.

Most studies that are touted by the anti-vaccine movement are poorly done and often flawed.

And they include these other papers and studies that have been retracted:

Is it a coincidence that all of the researchers who have had papers retracted seem to get funding from the CMSRI?

What else has been retracted?

The “Deadly Immunity” article by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

And the survey, “Vaccination and Health Outcomes: A Survey of 6- to 12-year-old Vaccinated and Unvaccinated Children based on Mothers’ Reports,” was originally retracted by Frontiers in Public Health before finding a home at another journal under a different name. That journal quickly retracted it too, but they then published the “fatally flawed” paper for some reason.

What to Know About Retracted Anti-Vaccine Studies

Many of the heroes of the anti-vaccine movement have published fatally-flawed studies that have been later retracted.

More on Retracted Anti-Vaccine Studies

Vaccines and the Holocaust

Nazis and Nazi symbolism have been in the news a lot lately.

Surprisingly, it isn’t all coming from rallies at Confederate statues.

Some of it is coming from the modern anti-vaccine movement.

Vaccines and the Holocaust

Most people understand what the Holocaust was.

Or do they…

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum defines the Holocaust as “the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators.”

As often as folks in the modern anti-vaccine movement use the word Holocaust, it makes you wonder sometimes if they really understand what it means.

Among the most recent (2015) to demonstrate “the violent rhetoric of the anti-vaccine movement” has been Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., when he said that:

“They get the shot. That night they have a fever of 103. They go to sleep, and three months later their brain is gone. This is a holocaust, what this is doing to our country.”

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr

Kennedy certainly isn’t the only or even the first to describe a vaccine holocaust though.

That wasn’t even his first time…

As the keynote speaker at the 2013 Autism One conference, Kennedy reportedly compared Dr. Paul Offit to a Nazi war criminal and said that “To my mind this is like the Nazi death camps.” He was reportedly referring to kids who he and others thought developed autism after being vaccinated.

Paul Offit is a Nazi and should be in prison at the 2013 Autism One conference.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr implied that Paul Offit is a Nazi and should be in prison at the 2013 Autism One conference.

Actually, after calling Dr. Offit a liar, he talked about how his father would talk to him about Vietnam:

“He used to talk about Vietnam and about how we were dropping napalm on villages and he said, ‘what’s the difference between us and the Nazis. What is the difference between us and the Nazis…’

And these people, these people should be in prison…

I would do a lot to see Paul Offit and all of these “good people” behind bars.

…Is it hyperbole that I think these people should be thrown in jail?

They should be thrown in jail and the key should be thrown away.”

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr

And yes, in the Q&A, when asked “why hasn’t the CDC acknowledged autism as an epidemic,” even though he said in his speech that they had admitted that it was, he replied that he couldn’t get into someone else’s head to tell why they were doing something.

Robert F. Kenny, Jr describing how 'this is like Nazi death camps' when talking about kids getting autism.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr describing how ‘this is like Nazi death camps’ when talking about kids getting autism because the CDC didn’t take thimerosal out of vaccines.

Kennedy also went on and on about science and research that supports a link between vaccines and autism and continues with the idea that kids get just as much thimerosal as ever because of the thimerosal in flu vaccines, leaving out the fact that thimerosal flu vaccines are a thing…

But before Kennedy, in 2010, Claire Dwoskin of the NVIC, CMSRI, and the Dwoskin Family Foundation wrote that:

“At least his daughter is alive, smiling, educated and enjoying life. That cannot be said for the hundreds of thousands of vaccine injured children in the US. What his daughter went through is NOTHING compared to what the families of autistic children go through every day of their lives. No disease can match this record of human devastation. Vaccines are a holocaust of poison on our children’s brains and immune systems. Shame on you all.”

Claire Dwoskin

Dwoskin and Kennedy haven’t continued to say vaccines are a holocaust, at least not in public.

The one person that most commonly uses holocaust imagery when talking about vaccines, and who will likely never stop, is the Health Ranger – Mike Adams.

Adams has used the “vaccine holocaust” term for years and has now created a dedicated website exposing his ideas of a conspiracy of a “media cover-up of vaccine violence against children.”

Adams has also called for making a “Nuremberg List” of all of the people working in Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Biotech, with individuals from “mass media, politics, government regulation bodies, finance, and from wherever appropriate,” including their names and “their observed crimes against humanity.”

Surprisingly, using the term even draws some disagreement among folks who think that vaccines do cause autism and that we are in an ‘age’ of an autism epidemic.

“I haven’t read it yet, but it looks very much like the view shared by most of our readers and myself – corruption at the CDC and big pharma leading to a vaccine-induced catastrophe – a holocaust…”

Dan Olmsted on The Autistic Holocaust – The Reason Our Children Keep Getting Sick

In discussing the book, The Autistic Holocaust – The Reason Our Children Keep Getting Sick, Dan Olmsted found that one participant had “a strong view that the choice of the word “Holocaust” is not appropriate and does not serve the interests of our children.”

Another thought that “Holocaust is a word with too powerful associations to be of much use describing anything other than the crimes of the Nazis.”

And still, the site he founded continues to publish articles like:

  • A Dozen Things We Can Do RIGHT NOW to Help Stop the Vaccine Holocaust
  • Rabbi Handler on Vaccines, Politics and the Autism Holocaust

Yes, they interviewed an anti-vaccine Rabbi who is upset with the CDC and NYC health department over their warnings about metzitzah b’peh (oral suction) during traditional bris milah (circumcision). The concern is that oral suctioning can spread herpes (cold sores) to the newborn baby, which can be fatal. And it still does

“Webster’s dictionary defines a holocaust as follows: “great or total destruction of life, especially by fire.”

Yes, there is a vaccine-triggered holocaust of autism and autoimmune diseases, like asthma, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, and various forms of ADHD and brain damage.

As one of the last living survivors of Hitler’s Nazi Holocaust, I am outraged that the Anti-Defamation League and other politically-Liberal Jewish organizations have claimed exclusive ownership of this very powerful English word and blocked its use by Autism activists.”

Rabbi William Handler

Rabbi Handler has been called out for other controversial opinions too, including that he supported a Rabbi who molested his own daughter and that he is against child protective services investigating and the state prosecuting those who physically abuse or sexually abuse children in the Orthodox Jewish community, instead advocating that a rabbinical counsel should do it instead.

Dr. Bob has even gotten in on the Holocaust imagery to scare parents about California’s vaccine laws:

“…So I tell them they don’t have to whisper. They can say it loud and clear, with confidence. Ya, I guess you don’t want to advertise it around the neighborhood – that will come soon enough. Scarlet “V” anyone? No, not scarlet. Let’s make it yellow. And not a V – a star would be better. That way everyone can know at first glance who is safe to be around and who is not. That way, if your old doctor and his children are walking down the street, they can easily identify your kids and quickly cross to the other side before they get too close.

Ask your Assemblyperson which color and shape they think would be most appropriate.

Disclaimer: This post is not intended as a reference to a holocaust. Rather, it’s intended to raise the issue of prejudice and discrimination. Others have likenend vaccine injury to a holocaust. Instead, we are talking about families who choose to not vaccinate. No holocaust here.”

Dr. Bob Sears on The Vaccine Whisperers

And unbelievably, there are others.

Also in California, Wakefield‘s anti-vaccine movie Vaxxed was introduced at a screening in Roseville by a speaker who said that:

“It is WE who are going to have to work non-stop to put an end to this ever-increasing medical tyranny, this abominable Vaccine Holocaust, this present evil…

For those who think “holocaust” is too strong a word, I assure you it is not.

“Holocaust” is defined as “destruction or slaughter on a mass scale”, and that is indeed what vaccinations are doing to those who receive them, which can often be observed in the short term, always in the long term, and for generations to come as you will learn as you study these issues more.”

Laura Hayes

And if it isn’t the Holocaust, many anti-vaccine folks still find ways to invoke Godwin’s Law – “as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler rapidly increases.”

There is even a band about refusing vaccines with a song called Vaccine Gestapo.

Rob Schneider calling California lawmakers Nazis after they passed a vaccine law that didn't even involve mandates to be vaccinated...
Rob Schneider calling California lawmakers Nazis after they passed a vaccine law that didn’t even involve mandates that kids be vaccinated…

Remember when Rob Schneider tweeted that California lawmakers were Nazis for passing a law that required parents to get educated before getting a vaccine exemption?

“Mandates effectively use schoolchildren as research subjects without informed consent, in violation of the Nuremberg Code.”

AAPS Executive Director Jane M. Orient, M.D.

Schneider also talked about the Nuremberg Laws. That one was surprising, as most other folks who are anti-vaccine invoke the Nuremberg Code instead.

Of course, both are offensive. As is bringing up the Holocaust when talking about vaccines, vaccine mandates, or autism.

What to Know About Vaccines and the Holocaust

That they would invoke the Holocaust when talking about vaccines and autism, and compare doctors and lawmakers to Nazis, tells you a lot about the modern anti-vaccine movement.

More on Vaccines and that Holocaust

Competing Anti-Vaccine Autism Theories

Vaccines don’t cause autism.

We know that.


Well, most of us know that.

But did you know that there are actually competing theories from anti-vaccine folks about how they think vaccines ’cause autism?’

Wakefield and MMR Causes Autism Theory

On one side, you have the followers of Andrew Wakefield who think that the MMR vaccine is to blame.

To be clear, they seem to think that the problem isn’t necessarily vaccines, but rather the combination of the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines into one.

“Again, this was very contentious and you would not get consensus from all members of the group on this, but that is my feeling, that the, the risk of this particular syndrome developing is related to the combined vaccine, the MMR, rather than the single vaccines.”

Andrew Wakefield

Wakefield had even filed a patent on his own vaccine replacement – a measles vaccine.

No, Thimerosal Causes Autism Theory

Then you have folks like Robert F Kennedy, Jr who claim that it is thimerosal in vaccines, which was actually removed in the late 1990s, that is to blame.

The thing is, although RFK, Jr believes that kids are still exposed to lots of thimerosal in vaccines, the MMR never ever contained thimerosal. So, if the MMR vaccine causes autism, it isn’t because of thimerosal.

And if thimerosal causes autism, then you can’t really blame the MMR vaccine…

No, Glyphosate Causes Autism Theory

And believe it or not, some folks don’t even blame vaccines!

Dr. Stephanie Seneff, with a Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, believes that exposure to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is causing kids to become autistic.

“Is there a toxic substance that is currently in our environment on the rise in step with increasing rates of Autism that could explain this?… The answer is yes, I’m quite sure that I’m right, and the answer is glyphosate.”

Stephanie Seneff, Ph.D.

Well, they still blame vaccines.

They think vaccines are contaminated with glyphosate.

Stephanie Seneff actually believes that autism will “afflict 50% of American children by 2025.”

That’s right, she thinks half of all kids will be autistic in just 8 years.

It’s Everything About Vaccines That Causes Autism Theory

And lastly, you have folks who just want to blame anything and everything about vaccines.

They may have blamed the MMR vaccine or thimerosal at one time, but may have moved on to other vaccine ingredients, like aluminum or formaldehyde, or simply getting too many vaccines at the same time.

Or they may believe in combinations of theories, with all of the ‘toxins‘ in vaccines supposedly having a synergistic effect – causing autism.

In many cases, they might not even be sure what it is about vaccines that causes autism, but they are still sure it is vaccines.

Why are there so many competing theories about how vaccines could cause autism?

Could it be because vaccines don’t cause autism?

What To Know About Anti-Vaccine Autism Theories

Whichever anti-vaccine expert is pushing their theory, remember that vaccines still don’t cause autism.

For More Information on Anti-Vaccine Autism Theories

Thimerosal in Vaccines

Although it was never actually linked to any real side effects, thimerosal (mercury) was removed from almost all childhood vaccines in 1999.

Thimerosal, a preservative, only remained in flu vaccines for a few years, but thimerosal free flu vaccines have been available since 2003.

That’s also the year that the remaining non-flu vaccines with thimerosal expired – January 2003.

And this year, at least “120 million doses of thimerosal-free or preservative-free influenza vaccine will be produced.” That means that over 75% of flu shots are thimerosal free, leaving only some multi-dose vials of flu shots to still have thimerosal, but making it easy to avoid if you want to.

Myth of Continued Exposure to Mercury in Vaccines

Although thimerosal was removed from vaccines in 1999, some anti-vax folks still claim that many vaccines contain mercury.
Although thimerosal was removed from vaccines in 1999, some anti-vax folks still claim that many vaccines contain mercury. Photo courtesy of Refutations to Anti-Vaccine Memes

Although most anti-vaccine groups have moved on to other conspiracy theories to scare parents, some still falsely claim that vaccines continue to be made with thimerosal and that thimerosal is dangerous.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., for example, continues to claim that even though thimerosal has been removed from pediatric vaccines, “thimerosal levels remain virtually unchanged.” This is mostly, he claims, because of flu shots with thimerosal. Also, when a pregnant woman gets a flu shot, Kennedy claims that the fetus gets a bolus of thimerosal “that’s about 800 times the amount of mercury the CDC recommends.”

First, it is important to remember that the original concerns about thimerosal were because children who received a complete set of thimerosal containing vaccines (only hepatitis B, DTaP, and Hib ever had thimerosal) could get up to 187.5 micrograms of ethyl mercury by the time they were six months old, which exceeded the EPA limits for methyl mercury ingestion (but was less than the FDA limits). They aren’t the same type of mercury though, and thimerosal free versions of DTaP and Hib were already available in the late 1990s, so many kids likely got less than 187.5 micrograms of ethyl mercury.

Since thimerosal was removed from almost all vaccines beginning in 1999, that left flu vaccines as the main pediatric vaccine that still used thimerosal as a preservative. So did expanded flu shot recommendations for kids mean that they still got a lot of thimerosal over the years?

It is extremely unlikely that many kids have gotten each and every one of their yearly flu vaccines with thimerosal. It is more likely that they got just a few with thimerosal and the rest without, as thimerosal free flu vaccines became more widely available. After all, a flu vaccine with reduced thimerosal was available as early as 2002.

In 2003, thimerosal free flu shots became available and Flumist, a thimerosal free flu nasal spray vaccine was also approved. The supply of thimerosal free flu vaccines increased each and every year. For the 2014-15 flu season, over 100 million doses of flu vaccine are available that are thimerosal free or preservative free (with only trace amounts of thimerosal).

Even if kids did get flu vaccines with thimerosal each year though, would it matter? A 2008 study in Pediatrics, “Mercury Levels in Newborns and Infants After Receipt of Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines,” found that the half-life of ethyl mercury was about two days, “suggesting that exposure to thimerosal-containing vaccines does not result in an accumulation of mercury in blood.” And the highest blood level they found was less than 5-8 nanograms/ml, which is far less than the 187.5 micrograms that anti-vax groups continue to talk about, even in infants who had already received a cumulative dose of 162.5 micrograms of thimerosal.

What about flu shots in pregnancy?

A 2010 study in Pediatrics, “Prenatal and Infant Exposure to Thimerosal From Vaccines and Immunoglobulins and Risk of Autism,” found that “prenatal and early-life exposure to ethylmercury from thimerosal-containing vaccines and immunoglobulin preparations was not related to increased risk of” autism spectrum disorders. Two other studies have also found that prenatal exposure to thimerosal from immunoglobulin preparations, like Rho(D) immune globulin, during pregnancy were not associated with an increased risk for autism.

And also consider that fewer than 15 to 30% of pregnant women got flu shots before 2009. After 2009 and the H1N1 pandemic, rates did increase, but only to about 38 to 52%.

Although current recommendations don’t state a preference for the type of flu shot for pregnant women, it is likely that at least some of them got thimerosal free flu shots. In California, for example, since the passage of their Mercury Free Act in 2006, pregnant women and children younger than age 3 years have to get vaccines that are ‘mercury free.’

What To Know About Thimerosal in Vaccines

Thimerosal is a preservative that was removed from vaccines beginning in 1999, which means that most teens today got little or no exposure to thimerosal from vaccines.

More Information About Thimerosal in Vaccines:

Updated April 8, 2017