Protect Your Children – The AAP and WHO Want to Keep Poisonous Mercury in Vaccines

Doctors and health officials are protesting taking thimerosal, a neurotoxic vaccine ingredient, out of vaccines.

We know that mercury is a toxin. We know that it was removed from most vaccines more than a decade ago. End of story, right? Wrong. The debate has resurfaced. If the AAP and the WHO have their way and can successfully influence the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), some vaccines will still contain thimerosal.

The UNEP, as part of an effort to reduce mercury exposure, is considering banning thimerosal worldwide. The AAP and the WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization are asking the UN to reconsider. Their statements are included in the online version of the January issue of Pediatrics. Although you can’t read the article without purchasing it, you can see a summary of the recommendations on the WHO’s website. [1]


According to the AAP, multi-dose vials that contain thimerosal are used for vaccines in developing countries where money and other resources are scant. The thimerosal prevents contamination. Louis Z. Cooper, MD, says, “As many as 84 million children globally are dependent on vaccines whose safe distribution requires availability of thimerosal as a preservative.” In the United States, only one childhood vaccine (influenza) contains thimerosal, and several others have “trace amounts.” [2]

That last statement comes directly from the AAP website. However, according to the CDC chart of vaccine ingredients, thimerosal is in more than one childhood vaccine: the Td (Decavac) and Flulaval (with no mention of multi-dose vials for either); the Meningococcal MPSVR Menomune and Fluzone (multi-dose vials only); trace amounts in the DT (Sanofi), DTaP (Tripedia), and Td (Mass Biologics), with no mention of multi-dose vials; and Fluvirin (multi-dose vials, trace only in prefilled syringes). [3]

The WHO has tried to tell other countries that the amount of mercury is “extremely small,” and if disposed of properly the release of mercury is minimal. The organization cites numerous problems involved in removing thimerosal from all vaccines (making them all single-dose), from affecting “the quality, safety, and efficacy of vaccines” to—obviously—finding an alternative preservative. Then, there are the issues of manufacturing, storage, waste disposal, supply interruption, unavailability of some vaccines, and “a high risk of serious disruption to routine immunization programs and mass immunization campaigns … with a predictable and sizable increase in mortality, for exceedingly limited environmental benefit.” [4]

For an excellent rebuttal of all the WHO’s arguments, see the Coalition for Mercury-Free Drugs website. [5]


Here are some proposed reasons not to include thimerosal in the global mercury ban.

Multi-dose vials (which must contain thimerosal) are cheaper and easier to produce, not to mention much faster in case of a pandemic. And thimerosal is safe. Although research has shown serious neurotoxic effects from methyl mercury, there is no such evidence for ethyl mercury, its organic counterpart. [6]

A huge part of the pro-thimerosal side is based on the conclusion that it should have never been banned in the first place. It was banned in the early 2000s because of public pressure and a few researchers who asked if the amount contained in vaccines fell within the safe level. Basically, the decision was made to err on the side of caution and “do no harm” until further studies could be conducted to prove its safety. [7] Since then, as the argument goes, overwhelming evidence has shown that thimerosal is not harmful. [8] “At the time,” Walter Orenstein, MD, says, “we just didn’t know what the toxic effects might be or might not be, and one of our concerns was, what if we did the studies and three years later found there was harm?” [9] And Dr. Offit’s two cents worth—or should I say “millions of dollars worth?”: It was “a mistake” to remove thimerosal from vaccines. “To make the same mistake now, with the information we have now, it could result in thousands of deaths.” [10]


Here are some reasons to include thimerosal in the ban.

The Coalition for Mercury-Free Drugs disputes the proof that thimerosal is safe and says it’s an “injustice” to use it in developing countries when it’s not used in developed countries. [11]

Eric Uram, executive director of SafeMinds, believes the practice is “egregious, offensive, and unacceptable.” However, he says health officials in several countries he has communicated with are hesitant to speak up because the WHO says thimerosal is safe. [12]

Barbara Loe Fisher, president of the National Vaccine Information Center, puts it this way: “If unused vials of thimerosal-containing vaccines must be disposed of as hazardous waste because of the mercury content, then why is the AAP strongly advocating that thimerosal-containing vaccines continue to be injected into children’s bodies?” The FDA and EPA “have not rescinded the 1999 directive to the pharmaceutical industry to take thimerosal out of childhood vaccines.” [13]


Those who want to keep thimerosal in vaccines cite multiple studies proving its safety. One is a 2002 NIAID-funded University of Rochester study claiming that the amount of ethyl mercury in vaccine falls below the safe level. Lead investigator Michael E. Pichichero, MD, said that it’s eliminated from the blood much faster than once thought. So, “by the time a child receives another round of vaccines containing mercury, virtually all of the compound from the previous doses has been eliminated.” [14]

Notice those words, “virtually all of.” What about the part that remains? The part that crosses the blood-brain barrier? Has anyone measured those levels? Is ANY mercury of ANY kind safe in the brain? Has anyone looked at the levels of mercury in the brains and bodies of children with autism? Has anybody looked at the cumulative effects of all the mercury in the dozens of vaccines injected into our children?

Most arguments claim that, while there are known neurological side effects connected with methyl mercury, ethyl mercury is safe. That is simply not true. The damage has been documented in study after study. [15, 16] Thimerosal proponents conveniently ignore these studies.

In July 2001, in a presentation to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Immunization Safety Review Committee, Dr. George Lucier concluded that ethyl mercury is a neurotoxin and “should be considered equipotent to methyl mercury as a developmental neurotoxin.” [17]

The House Government Reform Committee, under Rep. Dan Burton’s oversight, conducted a three-year investigation of mercury. During a 2002 session, David Baskin, MD, Professor of Neurosurgery and Anesthesiology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, stated that ethyl mercury penetrates cells better than methyl mercury, so their concentration in the cells is probably more pronounced than methyl mercury. Also cited in the hearing report is a 1985 Archives of Toxicology study showing that ethyl mercury was more toxic in rats than methyl mercury. [18]

All studies aside, perhaps the strongest evidence comes from the transcript of the secret Simpsonwood meeting held in June 2000. The meeting, which was not announced publicly, consisted of 52 attendees. They included representatives from the CDC, FDA, and WHO, as well as major vaccine manufacturers. Participants were instructed not to copy or leave with any documents. Tom Verstraeten, a CDC epidemiologist, had analyzed over 100,000 children’s medical records, and he believed thimerosal was to blame for the “dramatic” increase in autism. The data, which spoke for itself, was received with comments like “You can play with this all you want,” but the results “are statistically significant,” and “I do not want my grandson to get a thimerosal-containing vaccine until we know better what is going on.” [19]


Next came the cover-up [20], triggered by concern over how the truth would “affect the vaccine industry’s bottom line.”

Dr. Bob Chen, CDC head of vaccine safety: “given the sensitivity of the information, we have been able to keep it out of the hands of, let’s say, less responsible hands.”

Dr. John Clements, WHO vaccines advisor: the study “should not have been done at all” and the results “will be taken by others and will be used in ways beyond the control of this group. The research results have to be handled.”

Dr. Robert Brent, Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children, Delaware: “We are in a bad position from the standpoint of defending any lawsuits. This will be a resource to our very busy plaintiff attorneys in this country.”

Dr. Marie McCormick, the IOM’s Immunization Safety Review Committee’s chair: “We are not ever going to come down that [autism] is a true side effect” of thimerosal exposure.

Verstraeten went to work for GlaxoSmithKline and published his study in 2003 with “reworked” data that showed no link between thimerosal and autism.

Dr. Samuel Katz turned out to be a paid consultant for many vaccine manufacturers. He also shares a patent with Merck on a measles vaccine.

The CDC “lost” the data on the 100,000 children.

The IOM was instructed by the CDC to produce a study showing no connection between thimerosal and brain disorders, saying that the evidence was “inadequate to accept or reject a causal relation.” No further research necessary. According to chief staffer Kathleen Stratton, that was the result “Walt [Dr. Walter Orenstein] wants.” And the study was done exactly as ordered.

Vaccine manufacturers got help from the CDC, who allowed them to continue using thimerosal in some vaccines and to buy and ship them to developing countries.

Lawmakers also got help—in the form of huge contributions from pharmaceutical companies. One example is Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. After receiving $873,000, he started trying to protect manufacturers from liability. To quote his legislative assistant: “The lawsuits are of such magnitude that they could put vaccine producers out of business …”

Note: You can read Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s article, “Deadly Immunity,” published by Rolling Stone (July 14, 2005) in its entirety online. It raises a lot of questions that need to be answered and tells many truths that need to be told. You have to subscribe to Rolling Stone to read it, but if you Google the title, you’ll find it like I did. And before anyone raises this question, I’ll put it to rest. Rolling Stone NEVER retracted Kennedy’s article. Read the statement on their website. [21] You can also see the entire Simpsonwood transcript online. [22]


So, here we have proof that thimerosal is not safe. Proof that has been ignored and covered up for years. A very profitable cover-up. Then, we have the American Academy of Pediatrics publish a statement filled with dozens of reasons why thimerosal should remain in vaccines. How it’s safe and necessary. How children will die needlessly if it is included in the UN ban. As if that’s all not reprehensible enough, the AAP has the gall to tell us, as they’ve done time and time again, that the authors of the Pediatrics article have reported no conflicts of interest. [23]

Let’s look at the writers.

Louis Z. Cooper, MD, is a former AAP president and a trustee of the Sabin Vaccine Institute. [24] Sabin’s mission, in part, is “to reduce needless human suffering from vaccine-preventable diseases by developing new vaccines” and to advocate for “increased use of existing vaccines.” [25]

Samuel Katz, MD, known as “a vaccine ambassador” by Dartmouth University, [26], has been awarded Sabin’s Gold Medal. [27]

Katherine King, PhD, is a research associate at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto where she works at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program. [28]

Walter A. Orenstein, MD, has helped lead the CDC’s National Immunization Program for 30 years and served as the liaison member to the National Vaccine Advisory Committee for more than 14 years. He has also been a CDC liaison to the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases and a consultant to the WHO. [29]

Question for the AAP: Define “conflict of interest.”


The House Government Reform Committee’s report of its mercury investigation ended with this statement: “Thimerosal used as a preservative in vaccines is likely related to the autism epidemic. … This epidemic in all probability may have been prevented or curtailed had the FDA not been asleep at the switch regarding a lack of safety data regarding injected thimerosal, a known neurotoxin.” The FDA and other public-health agencies failed to act out of “institutional malfeasance for self-protection” and “misplaced protectionism of the pharmaceutical industry.” [30]

Orenstein actually raised an excellent point when he asked, “[W]hat if we did the studies and three years later found there was harm?” [31] What if they did studies on any other vaccine ingredient and three years later found there was harm? Or what if they did studies on the combination of some of the ingredients—even two—and three years later found there was harm? Or what if they did studies on giving multiple vaccines at the same time and three years later found there was harm? That is why they haven’t and won’t do the studies. Or if they do, they will lie about their findings. Because they KNOW what they will find. Harm.


You can help by signing SafeMind’s petition to Rep. Darrell Issa, which requests:

The AAP must reverse support for unrestricted use of mercury in vaccines. To prevent injecting mercury (thimerosal) into pregnant women, infants and children around the world by supporting a global phase-out of mercury from all medical, pharmaceutical and personal care products. The second most toxic element on Earth has no place in 21st century medicine. [32] [contentbox headline=”References” type=”normal”]

1. www.who.int/wer/2012/wer8721.pdf

2. http://aapnews.aappublications.org/content/early/2012/12/17/aapnews.20121217-1

3. www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/downloads/appendices/B/excipient-table-2.pdf

4. www.who.int/wer/2012/wer8721.pdf

5. http://mercury-freedrugs.org/docs/120720_CoMeD…

6. www.medpagetoday.com/InfectiousDisease/Vaccines/36480

7. www.redorbit.com/news/health/1112750163/thimerosal-vaccine-preservative-safety-ban-121812/

8. www.nytimes.com/2012/12/17/health/experts-say-thimerosal-ban…

9. www.redorbit.com/news/health/1112750163/thimerosal-vaccine-preservative-safety-ban-121812/

10. http://health.usnews.com/health-news/news/articles/2012/12/17/banning-vaccine-preservative-would-hurt-kids-in-poor-nations-experts

11. www.nytimes.com/2012/12/17/health/experts-say-thimerosal-ban-would…

12. www.redorbit.com/news/health/1112750163/thimerosal-vaccine-preservative-safety-ban-121812/

13. http://health.usnews.com/health-news/news/articles/2012/12/17/banning-vaccine-preservative-would-hurt-kids-in-poor-nations-experts

14. www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/story/index.cfm?id=160

15. www.healingpediatrics.com/articles/James_neurotoxicity.pdf

16. http://abcmt.org/A%20Novel%20Form%20of%20Mecury%20Poisoning.pdf

17. http://vaccines.procon.org/sourcefiles/Burton_Report.pdf

18. http://vaccines.procon.org/sourcefiles/Burton_Report.pdf

19. www.commondreams.org/views05/0616-31.htm

20. www.commondreams.org/views05/0616-31.htm

21. www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/deadly-immunity-20110209

22. www.safeminds.org/government-affairs/foia/Simpsonwood_Transcript.pdf

23. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2012/12/12/peds.2012-2262.full.pdf+html

24. www.immunizationinfo.org/about-nnii/steering-committee/louis-z-cooper-md

25. www.sabin.org

26. http://dartmed.dartmouth.edu/summer09/html/alumni_album.php

27. www.sabin.org/updates/pressreleases/samuel-l-katz-md-receive-2003-sabin-gold-medal

28. www.primr.org/Conferences.aspx?id=15814

29. www.vaccines.emory.edu/scientists/orenstein_bio.shtml

30. http://vaccines.procon.org/sourcefiles/Burton_Report.pdf

31. www.redorbit.com/news/health/1112750163/thimerosal-vaccine-preservative-safety-ban-121812/

32. www.change.org/organizations/safeminds

Jennifer Hutchinson

Jennifer Hutchinson is a freelance editor and writer. She has devoted the last few years to helping Jake recover, researching autism and vaccines, and sharing what she knows with others. She lives in Winchester, Virginia, with Ann and Jake.