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Your Baby Week Twenty Six

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Updated January 20, 2013

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Mercury in Vaccines

The presence of mercury, or more precisely, thimerosal, in vaccines, is a common reason that some parents are hesitant to get their infants vaccinated.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Thimerosal is a mercury-containing preservative used in some vaccines and other products since the 1930s."

Although there was no evidence that thimerosal was actually harmful, it was removed from most vaccines that are routinely given to children in 2001. The main exception is the flu shot, although a preservative-free version of the flu shot has been available in an increasing supply in recent years too.

A few other vaccines that still contain thimerosal, including the tetanus booster shot (Td) and older meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine, have largely been replaced with newer versions. Most children now receive the newer Tdap booster and Menactra, both of which are thimerosal free, instead of the older vaccines.

The older DT (Diphtheria and Tetanus) vaccine also may contain thimerosal if your pediatrician is using a multi-dose vial of vaccine. DT is mainly given to children who should not receive the pertussis vaccine.

Mercury-Free Vaccines

With the possible exception of a flu shot, your infant will not get a vaccine with thimerosal. If you are still concerned that it is a possibility, you can consult this table with the thimerosal content in U.S. licensed vaccines.

By the time he is 12 to 15 months old, your child will receive the following vaccines:

  • DTaP
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hib
  • Influenza (Flu)
  • MMR
  • Polio
  • Prevnar
  • Rotavirus
  • Varicella

Again, except for the flu shot, no versions or brands of any of these other vaccines that are made with thimerosal as a preservative.



Sources:

CDC. Mercury and Vaccines (Thimerosal).

Institute of Medicine. Immunization Safety Review: Vaccines and Autism. 2004.

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