Banning Mercury in Vaccines - The Battle Continues

Banning Mercury in Vaccines - The Battle Continues
- Jagannath Chatterjee

The UNEP has recently decided to ban mercury containing vaccines worldwide. This has alarmed the vaccine industry and its lobbyists. They argue that this would make vaccine unaffordable in poor countries and that this move will endanger the lives of children. A signature campaign is now on, besides other ground based efforts, to nip this move in its bud. The final decision will be taken this month and the goal is to bring sufficient pressure on the UNEP to help reverse the decision.

Mercury in any form is highly toxic and is potentially dangerous particularly for pregnant mothers and the fetus/child. Some people with sensitivity to mercury are more vulnerable and may react even to doses considered to be safe, less than 0.1mcg per kg of body weight. This standard does not apply to children as thiomersal, the mercury containing preservative in vaccines, has never been adequately clinically tested on children for fear of raising concerns which are deemed unnecessary by agencies dealing with vaccines.  It may be pointed out that there is no safe limit for mercury and standards have been set to appease the industries manufacturing this neurotoxin, those polluting the atmosphere and those using this heavy metal.

Considering potential of harm mercury has been reduced to 0.05 to 0.1 mcg per shot in most American vaccines as per CDC, NIH, FDA and AAP recommendations, institutions that found it difficult to bear the heat after the Bernard et al review was published and taken up by the US Congress. These institutions are now under pressure to remove aluminum from vaccines and other chemicals like polysorbate 80, phenol and the adjuvants AS03 and AS04. They are also having to consider concerns of serum and rDNA contamination in many vaccines.

It is difficult to understand the motive behind resisting the move to remove mercury from vaccines used in developing countries where children may be more at risk due to their low birth weight and undernourished conditions. Each thiomersal containing vaccine contains 25mcg of mercury and more than one vaccine may be injected in one visit. If we take the EPA safe limit into consideration then a child would have to weigh 550 lbs to tolerate a single shot. Mercury also tends to accumulate in the body, particularly in the brain. This fact is known to chemists who deal with this highly neurotoxic heavy metal. Even very small spills require evacuation. Thiomersal containing vials carry the skull and crossed bones danger mark on the labels and workers wear protective gear and clothing while handling this compound. 

Mercury in vaccines is administered along with aluminum salts and formaldehyde, with both of which it suffers synergistic toxicity thus vastly multiplying its potential for harm, a fact that is well known but never discussed. The bioacumulation of mercury in childrens bodies is now the source of serious concern due to its increasing presence in the atmosphere and its presence in breastmilk and placental fluid. Thus it is better to let science take its course and encourage the UNEP decision. Particularly so as knowledgeable doctors in developing countries are already encouraging clients to go in for mercury free single dose vaccines.

Please do share this information in your groups so that doctors and groups trying to help children overcome crises are not misled by the malicious business motivated campaign to block the UNEP move, a move that is long overdue and was considered in the fall of 1999 by international groups focusing on the vital matters of childrens wellbeing and protection. There are many lobbies that will take care of affordable prices once the industry reconciles itself to mercury free vaccines. Vaccines are an emerging highly profitable sector that can bear the fall out of a little drop in profits. What has been made possible in the USA can be replicated in other countries too. Vaccines must be made safer. Period.