Almost 20 years ago the American medical community was rocked by the realization that millions of infants were being overloaded with mercury from childhood vaccinations. Medical policy-makers and vaccine manufacturers scrambled to remove mercury from vaccines, and by the end of 2002 mercury was a thing of the past. Or was it?
Mercury is still present in about half of the flu shots that are manufactured every year, including some of the brands that are given to pregnant women and young infants. Recognizing the dangers of mercury during pregnancy and early childhood, many states have banned the use of mercury-containing flu shots in these two vulnerable groups. However, vaccine providers typically run out of mercury-free flu shots half way through flu season, and state legislators or governers then have to suspend their state ban so that flu shots can continue in pregnant women and young babies for the rest of the flu season.
The simplest way to make sure the flu shot you are getting is mercury-free is to get one that is manufactured as a single-dose vial or a single-dose syringe. These formulations don’t need a preservative, like mercury. However, all of the large 10-dose vials do contain mercury, because multiple doses are taken from that vial over many days, so a preservative is necessary. Ask your medical provider to show you the single-dose vial or single-dose syringe prior to giving you the vaccine so you can be certain.
What should you do if the only thing your doctor has left are shots with the full dose of mercury? You can search elsewhere for any left-over mercury-free shots at other offices or clinics. Or you can simply decide to do without the flu vaccine for that year. This is especially true for pregnant women and young children. No one wants their developing fetus or infant to be exposed to mercury while their brain is developing.
Do you even have to worry about mercury in the first place? The debate rages on. Researchers battle back and forth over this issue. We’ve known for decades that mercury is toxic to the brain and body tissues. But whether or not the amount in vaccines is enough to cause damage is still up in the air. Some research shows there is enough evidence of harm; other studies have determined there is not enough proof that the mercury in vaccines is dangerous. No study, however, has yet to prove for certain that this mercury is safe.