Tag: World Mercury Project

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

What Happened to Kennedy’s Vaccination Safety Committee?

Many folks were surprised by the reports that Donald Trump had selected Robert Kennedy, Jr to head a committee on vaccine safety.

RJK, JR has made a number of outrageous claims about vaccines and autism.
RJK, Jr has made a number of outrageous claims about vaccines and autism.

Or maybe it shouldn’t have been a surprise. Kennedy, an environmental lawyer, once wrote a discredited article on the dangers of mercury in vaccines, and like Trump, continues to believe that vaccines are linked to autism.

But what can we expect from a Kennedy vaccine safety committee?

Robert F Kennedy, Jr on Vaccines

Vaccines have been proven safe and necessary time and again. If this vaccine safety commission happens, most people expect Kennedy to push his conspiracy theories to even more people.

In addition to wasting a lot of time and money, Kennedy has the potential to scare parents away from getting their kids vaccinated and protected against vaccine-preventable diseases.

“The CDC is a subsidiary of the pharmaceutical industry. The agency owns more than 20 vaccine patents and purchases and sells $4.1 billion in vaccines annually.”

Robert F Kennedy, Jr

This is one of RFK, Jr statements about vaccines.

Surprisingly, some parts of this statement are true.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does own some vaccine patents. And the CDC does buy about $4.1 billion in vaccines each year.

They don’t sell those vaccines though. They are distributed through the Vaccines for Children program to children who can’t afford vaccines.

Other Robert F Kennedy, Jr Vaccine Conspiracy Theories

What else does Kennedy believe?

While many anti-vaccine folks believe in Big Pharma conspiracies, Kennedy takes it to an extreme and believes that they have a “broad reach” and that “virtually all the institutions that are supposed to stand between a rapacious industry and vulnerable children have been compromised,” including “Congress, the regulatory agencies, FDA and CDC, the IOM, the NIH, the AAP, the science journals, the university science departments and the press.”

Kennedy has also stated, or to be more precise, misstated that:

  • “Pharma’s stranglehold on the journals keeps independent vaccine safety science from ever getting published. Just this month, the Swiss journal, Frontiers in Public Health, cancelled publication of the first vaccinated/unvaccinated study. The study showed that vaccinated children had less measles and rubella, but four times as many neurological disorders—including autism –and 30 times the incidence of allergies.” – The very small study had been only provisionally accepted and was rejected upon further review. It wasn’t even the first vaccinated/unvaccinated study. That would be the “Vaccination Status and Health in Children and Adolescents Findings of the German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents (KiGGS),” which looked at “whether unvaccinated children and adolescents differ from those vaccinated in terms of health.” And not surprisingly, they do. The unvaccinated kids get more vaccine preventable diseases. So what happened to the study? Like many retracted anti-vaccine studies, they republished it in another journal.
  • “…there is an overt conspiracy by a small group within the CDC vaccine division. It’s explicit. You can watch it unfold if you read the Simpsonwood transcripts and the related emails…” – Kennedy wrote extensively about Simpsonwood, the 2000 Scientific Review of Vaccine Safety Datalink Information conference, in his article Deadly Immunity, which was so full of obvious errors (some described them as lies), that it was eventually retracted. In addition to the obvious errors, Kennedy “quote mined the IOM report to make it seem that it said the exact opposite of what it really said.”
  • “…the CDC’s best and most recent science shows that autism spectrum disorder rates in Scandinavia dropped 33 percent following the removal of thimerosal in 1993.” – the article Kennedy cites is actually about recurrence risk, how likely you are to have another child with autism and “supports the role of genetics in ASDs,” and although rates seemed to decrease after a peak, they were still the same as before thimerosal was removed
  • “Vaccine mercury exposures to children today are comparable to exposures in the 1990s, and, for the first time, thimerosal vaccines are being administered to pregnant women in America.” – this is perhaps Kennedy’s most ridiculous claim. I think he mostly bases it on the fact that pregnant women get flu shots, but with the availability of thimerosal free flu vaccines (70% of flu vaccine dosages available this year) and the fact that only about 40% of pregnant women get the flu vaccine during flu season, it is impossible to think that “vaccine mercury exposures to children today are comparable to exposures in the 1990s,” when the hepatitis B, DTaP, and Hib vaccines could all have thimerosal and were all given to infants multiple times.
  • Kennedy has compared getting vaccinated to “a holocaust” and in his mind, there is a conspiracy among the CDC, doctors, and the press that is “akin to what happened to the Catholic Church during the pedophile scandal. The institution suddenly became more important than the children it was supposed to protect. Only a few individuals were actively involved in raping children and shuffling known pedophile priests to unsuspecting dioceses.” – he apologized for the holocaust statement, but not for anything else he has ever said.
  • “I want to apologize to all whom I offended by my use of the word to describe the autism epidemic. I employed the term during an impromptu speech as I struggled to find an expression to convey the catastrophic tragedy of autism, which has now destroyed the lives of over 20 million children and shattered their families.” – of course, his “apology” was just as offensive to many people
  • “First of all, vaccines are not subject to the safety rigors undergone by other pharmaceuticals in the FDA approval process. There are no large scale, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies.” – there actually are
  • “…in the one 1930 human study of thimerosal that predated its use in vaccines, all the subjects injected with thimerosal died.” – all of the subjects had meningococcal meningitis, a now vaccine-preventable disease that is life-threatening even today
  • “Verstraeten’s original analysis of those datasets found that thimerosal exposures increased autism risk by 760%. The CDC now knew the cause of the autism epidemic.” – it didn’t, although this is a common anti-vaccine conspiracy that involves the CDC hiding data about thimerosal, vaccines, and autism

Ironically, Kennedy is the nephew of President John F Kennedy, who signed the Vaccination Assistance Act in 1962 (Section 317 of the Public Health Service Act). President Kennedy’s vaccine law started as a three year program to help get kids vaccinated against polio, diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, and has been continuously reauthorized ever since.

What Happened to Kennedy’s Vaccination Safety Committee

Kennedy never did get appointed to head Trump’s vaccine safety commission.

“In both of those two meetings he asked me if vaccines weren’t a bad thing because he was considering a commission to look into ill-effects of vaccines,” Gates recalled, noting that Robert Kennedy Jr. had been urging Trump to launch such an effort. Gates said he told Trump, “that’s a dead end, that would be a bad thing, don’t do that.”

In fact, Trump never even created a vaccine safety commission, perhaps because he got some good advice from Bill Gates.

What to Know About Robert F Kennedy, Jr’s Vaccination Safety Committee

Plans for a Vaccine Safety Commission, which would help Robert F Kennedy, Jr gain a bigger audience for his ideas about thimerosal and autism, seem to be on hold.

More on Robert F Kennedy, Jr’s Vaccination Safety Committee