State Asked To Lift Mercury Ban for Flu Shots
Four medical groups in California last week asked the state health secretary to temporarily waive the state ban on mercury flu shots for young children, due to a production delay in the mercury-free vaccine, the Contra Costa Times reports.
The state ban on thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative used in some vaccines, was passed in 2004 and scheduled to take effect this year. However, as the flu season approaches, pediatricians said there is limited access to the thimerosal-free vaccine, intended for children younger than three.
The letter requesting the ban be lifed was sent to the state health secretary on behalf of:
- California branch of the American Academy of Pediatrics;
- California Academy of Family Physicians
- California Medical Association; and
- Kaiser Permanente.
The state health department is reviewing the request, according to a spokesperson.
Only one company, Sanofi Pasteur, produces the thimerosal-free vaccine. Production has been delayed because one of the viral strains in the child and adult flu vaccine grew poorly this year, according to the Times.
Sanofi Pasteur expects to fill all of its orders by the end of the month, said spokesperson Patty Tomsky.
In 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Public Health Service requested that pharmaceutical companies remove thimerosal from children's vaccines after FDA found that children who received the full set of recommended immunizations could accumulate doses of mercury exceeding EPA guidelines (Kleffman, Contra Costa Times, 11/2). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.