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Monday, October 03, 2005

Doctor worried about flu vaccine preservative


About a dozen people, most alternative health practitioners or parents, gathered last week at Rarity Bay in Loudon to hear a Cleveland physician speak on flu vaccine.

Family practitioner Dr. David Adams presented "Flu Shots and Vaccines: What You Need to Know!" and moderated an informational discussion at the forum sponsored by Wholistic Wellness Network.

Among Adams' chief concerns was that the majority of flu vaccine in America still contains thimerosal, a preservative used since the 1930s that's almost 50 percent mercury.

Though the federal government decided in 1999 to begin phasing out mercury in childhood vaccines, an adult dose of most flu shots still contains 25 micrograms of mercury. Pediatric flu shot doses are about half the size of adults'.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states, "There is no scientific evidence that thimerosal in vaccines is harmful," but some national groups claim a link between mercury in immunizations and rapidly escalating rates of autism in 1990s. Some parents allege the government has covered up a link between vaccines and autism.

"You're injecting yourself with a neurotoxin which the EPA would be horrified if you ate " enough mercury-containing fish to have the same levels in your body, said Adams, who believes his son's autism was caused by ingredients in vaccines.

Dr. Lori Patterson, infectious disease physician for East Tennessee Children's Hospital, said the risk of flu -- which kills 40-60 U.S. children a year and sickens millions more with influenza and secondary infections -- is higher than the risk of harm from trace amounts of mercury.

"Regular influenza kills people, including children -- sometimes even previously healthy children," she said. "It's heartbreaking because it's totally preventable."

Flu vaccine without mercury is available, but the government has said it's more expensive to manufacture and is thus less in demand. Parents can request it, but realistically, less than 10 percent of flu shots available in America are thimerosal-free, though the FluMist nasal spray -- which uses a live but deactivated virus that is adapted to live only in the colder temperatures of the nasal lining, not in the body -- contains no thimerosal.

Parents present at the forum, including Kelly Riggs of Halls, expressed concern over the county's plan to administer FluMist in public schools this year with parents' consent. Riggs said that even though she would not consent for her child to have FluMist, she was afraid her child could get the virus from another FluMist-vaccinated child.

There have been no documented cases of a FluMist-vaccinated person making another person sick with influenza.

Posted by Becca

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