No-Mercury-Added Flu Vaccines

More children than ever before are expected to get the flu vaccine for the 2004-2005 flu season, both because of new recommendations and because last year’s rough flu season still lingers in many people’s memories. Preservative-free flu vaccine is available — for those who ask for it before the supply is already committed.

A small amount of a form of mercury called thimerosal is still used as a preservative in multi-dose vials of the vaccine, which still accounts for most doses given. I see no reason to choose these added-mercury-containing preparations any longer, especially for young children.

The flu tends to strike the elderly and young children (and those with other diseases) hardest. For healthy children who will be 6 to 23 months old during the flu season, the benefits of the flu vaccine can be significant. It’s a good time now to ask your doctor about going perservative-free for next fall. Aventis-Pasteur makes the only preservative-free version approved in the U.S. for children 6 thru 23 months. For older children and adults, there are two additional options without added mercury: a single-dose injection made by Chiron Corp. and the FluMist nasal spray vaccine made by a Wyeth-MedImmune collaboration. The flu vaccine was one of the last of the commonly used vaccines to offer a version without added mercury preservative. Parents deserve to know in time that there is a choice between different vaccines.

Published on: June 23, 2004
About the Author
Photo of Dr. Alan Greene
Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
Get Dr. Greene's Wellness RecommendationsSignup now to get Dr. Greene's healing philosophy, insight into medical trends, parenting tips, seasonal highlights, and health news delivered to your inbox every month.
No comments yet. Start the conversation!
Add your comment