Four Of 7 Flu UK Shots
Have Mercury -
Linked To Autism
Autism Fears Over Flu Shots

By Fraser Nelson
The Scotsman
Four of the seven flu jabs being issued by the government this winter contain a mercury-based preservative which is being withdrawn in the US amid fears of its links to autism.
The Department of Health has confirmed that most of the flu vaccines being issued through the National Health Service contain thimerosal, a preservative which is 50 per cent composed of ethyl mercury.
Thimerosal is already being withdrawn in the US, where a government health authority has warned that it has a "biologically plausible" link to autism and should not be given to pregnant women.
The UK government has this year chosen seven vaccines to combat three expected strains of the flu virus, and is aiming to vaccinate 70 per cent of people aged over 65 in a UK-wide programme.
The Scotsman can today name the four which, according to the Department of Health, contain thimerosal - and, therefore, mercury. They are Fluvirin, Fluarix, Influvac and Agrippal. The mercury-free vaccines are Inflexal V, Begrivac and this year,s flu vaccine from Aventis Pasteur.
Officials have said they do not recognise any health risk posed by the mercury in thimerosal. As a result, patients - whether pregnant or not - are not being advised which vaccines contain mercury.
"There is no evidence of long-term adverse effects due to the exposure levels of thimerosal in vaccines," a Department of Health spokeswoman said.
"The risk-benefit balance of thimerosal-containing vaccines remains overwhelmingly positive."
She added that the Institute of Medicine in the US had looked at the issue and had "concluded that evidence does not support a causal association between thimerosal contained in vaccines and neuro-developmental disorders".
The IoM,s exact conclusion, however, argued that such a link was "biologically plausible" - and said there is not enough evidence to accept or reject a link between thimerosal and neurological disorders.
In a statement which fuelled fears about thimerosal safety, it urged that "full consideration should be given to removing thimerosal from any biological product to which infants, children and pregnant women are exposed".
Pregnant women are advised to avoid thimerosal because the mercury affects the foetus to a greater extent than the mother. For the same reason, pregnant women are advised against having silver dental fillings fitted as the amalgam is 50 per cent composed of mercury.
However, the Department of Health does not include pregnant women among the categories of people at risk from the flu vaccine.
It instead lists those with heart problems and people allergic to hen,s eggs, because the vaccines are incubated in a similar substance.
The Department of Health said its decision to buy mercury-free vaccines is "a purely precautionary measure", which is part of "a move in both the US and Europe to minimise the exposure of infants to mercury".
Robert McKay, a Scottish co-ordinator of the National Autistic Society, said he was astonished that dangers about mercury in vaccines have not been spelled out by the government. "We need access to the same information given to parents in other countries."
"If we have a choice in vaccine, we would like to know about it. This information should be given to families in this country so they can make decisions for themselves."
Mercury,s links to autism and neuro-developmental disorders have been well documented.
Children born in the Faroe Islands in 1987 were found to have developmental disorders after their mothers ate mercury-contaminated whale meat.
Two years ago, the Journal of Neurochemistry ran a study showing brain cells exposed to even minute levels of mercury developed the exact set of neuro-deformations associated with Alzheimer's disease.
Last year, Canadian research reinforced the suggested link between exposure to mercury and Alzheimer's.
Table 2: Vaccines available in Australia that contain thiomersal
Trade Name
Dose of thiomersal
Combined diphtheria and tetanus vaccine
50 micrograms
Adult diphtheria and tetanus vaccine
50 micrograms
Diphtheria vaccine
50 micrograms
Hepatitis B
Engerix B Adult
<2 micrograms
*Influenza vaccines
Fluarix, Influvac, Fluvax
GlaxoSmithKline, Solvay, CSL
50 micrograms
Japanese encephalitis vaccine
JE Vax
35 micrograms
Q fever vaccine
Q vax
50 micrograms



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