American Academy of Pediatrics Promotes Indefinite Use of Thimerosal

In three commentaries published online, the AAP supports the continued injection of mercury into infants and children around the world.

Read the commentaries here:

Global Vaccination Recommendations and Thimerosal
Ban on Thimerosal in Draft Treaty on Mercury: Why the AAP's Position in 2012 is So Important
Global Justice and the Proposed Ban on Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines

SafeMinds's responds to the World Health Organization and American Academy of Pediatrics’ support for continued use of mercury in vaccines.

[Madison, WI - January 7, 2013] - In an unprecedented reversal of efforts for decreasing known toxic exposures to children, the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics have issued statements opposing any limitations on the use of the mercury preservative Thimerosal® in infant and childhood vaccines. These organizations, while supporting the elimination of all other potential mercury exposures, oppose language limiting mercury in medicine in the negotiations for an international mercury treaty, despite delegates’ desire to include it. As a result, WHO and AAP are not only signaling tacit approval to industry for continued use of Thimerosal, but also development of new mercury-containing pharmaceutical products and the reintroduction of mercury into medications where its use had previously been eliminated. SafeMinds notes that nothing in EU or US regulations currently prevents such increases in use from occurring.

Pharmaceutical companies have indicated their ability, desire and capacity to provide mercury-free vaccines, but WHO and others promoting the expansion of the global vaccine programs have instead chosen to press for keeping the cheaper, more dangerous vaccines in place. This pressure to exempt preservatives and disinfectants from phase out only serves to justify continuing use in countries where prenatal and childhood environmental mercury exposures are higher than anywhere else in the world.

In their claim "benefits outweigh costs," both WHO and AAP acknowledge potential negative effects exist from using mercury-preserved vaccines. The current WHO cost/benefit analysis externalizes costs and ignores additional exposures. A comprehensive analysis that includes all aspects of production, procurement, administration, disposal and costs related to mercury injury would provide stronger evidence for eliminating mercury from vaccines and other pharmaceutical and personal care products.

In their efforts, WHO and AAP have misrepresented alternative language by saying options have only called for an immediate and total ban. Instead, optional language has actually intended to expeditiously phase-down medical mercury whenever and wherever practicable. The treaty could and should do a better job of promoting the development and sharing of knowledge and technology that would support national plans to transition away from WHO-mandated mercury-containing vaccines.

For any student of mercury toxicity, common sense dictates that any opportunity to prevent mercury exposure should be undertaken, especially with vaccine exposures - a purposefully-induced bolus dose of mercury that bypasses the majority of the body's natural barriers and internal detoxification mechanisms. Further complicating this issue, ongoing research into mercury's toxic effects continues to show negative outcomes at lower and lower levels of exposure and increasing concerns about how the body deals with ethylmercury, the mercury form found in most preservatives and disinfectants, including Thimerosal.

As a result, SafeMinds continues calling for nations to support language in the treaty initiating a phasedown approach for eliminating all forms of mercury from use in pharmaceutical and personal care products, including vaccines.

Please help us spread the word that this policy is just wrong and that thimerosal should be phased out worldwide as soon as possible.

Send your opinion and/or personal story to the authors of these articles. Please do not attack them personally:

Walter Orenstein, MD

Lou Cooper, MD
Shane Green, PhD

The following are the links to Eric's statement and the SafeMinds' Summary of Science Supporting the Removal of Thimerosal. Please share them on social media and with your pediatrician and other doctors. The best way to prevent policies that ignore the science is to put the science front and center.

Statement from SafeMinds Executive Director Eric Uram

SafeMinds Summary of Science Supporting the Removal of Thimerosal

Safeminds Press Release:

Stunned by Opinions Endorsing Mercury in Childhood Vaccines, SafeMinds Renews Call for Phase Out

Opinions recently published in Pediatrics advance a callous approach to the health of the world’s children. The authors rationalize using a handful of studies they hope will counter well-justified science about exposure to mercury and its known links to brain damage.

The causal link between brain damage and mercury – mercury in any form, especially the organic forms including ethylmercury found in the vaccine preservative thimerosal – has been well-established. Hundreds of articles on studies have been published over the past 75 years by the world’s most respected scientists – whose only association is a shared goal of the scientific search for truth.

Eric Uram, SafeMinds’ Executive Director believes the WHO is seeking help to justify their call to keep mercury in the international vaccine supply. “Obviously the World Health Organization reached out for support in continuing the use of mercury in vaccines given to infants and pregnant mothers. SafeMinds thinks this idea is scientifically and morally bankrupt and vaccine policy-makers should agree with well-established science, researchers and parents in rejecting it.”

The open-ended blanket exemption for the Global Mercury Treaty, proposed by WHO and endorsed by the opinions in Pediatrics, would provide companies with no incentives to change the status quo and could reverse efforts to eliminate mercury exposures. This endangers the welfare of children by perpetuating mercury in pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCPs) including vaccines in developing countries and opens the potential to the return of mercury preservatives into products, even those where it had already been removed, including US domestic infant and children vaccines.

SafeMinds believes going against the definitive scientific evidence on mercury toxicity would be unprecedented in public health policy. “Frankly, the opinions found in the editorials are not only incorrect; they are irrelevant to an evidence-based vaccine policy. The fact is the science clearly shows all forms of mercury, including thimerosal, are known to affect the brain and are poison to the human body,” said Lyn Redwood, RN, MSN, and Vice-President of SafeMinds.

SafeMinds supports the timely global phase-out of thimerosal from all PPCPs, including vaccines. Technology to provide all children in the world with the safest vaccines possible has a price difference estimated by WHO at about $4 per child and would be more than offset by reduced costs to treat mercury-impacted children and provide a healthier and more productive future workforce.
PEDIATRICS, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published three independent editorials that state calling for removal of the mercury-based preservative thimerosal from pediatric vaccines in 1999 was hasty and erroneous. Then, in turn, the authors endorse the position of the World Health Organization (WHO) to exempt thimerosal from the United Nations Environmental Program Global Mercury Treaty currently under negotiation.

PEDIATRICS clearly states the opinions expressed are the authors and not necessarily those of the AAP or its Committees. According to Uram, "Decisions affecting millions of children globally should not be based on opinions but on sound science. Today’s science clearly shows that all mercury exposure is dangerous, especially for children. Mercury is more toxic than lead, and considered the second most toxic element on Earth after plutonium. Justifying injecting it into humans turns science-based policy to protect public health right on its head."

Download science summary highlighting studies that support removal of thimerosal.