Thimerosal in Vaccines is Not Dangerous (in Fact, it's Great)

Thimerosal in Vaccines is Not Dangerous (in Fact, it's Great)

If you want to become an antivaxxer, Thimerosal is a great place to start because it's easy to trigger buzz words the public has learned to equate with danger. It usually goes something like, "Thimerosal is in vaccines, thimerosal has mercury, mercury is a neurotoxin, therefore vaccines are toxic."

If you've read already how vaccine ingredients are safe, this one might be a review for you.

First, let's measure, then we'll explore just how dangerous thimerosal is.

How much Thimerosal is in most vaccines?

Zero.

Yep, there was such a fuss about this ingredient that manufacturers removed it logically fearing people would stop taking the things. Now that it's removed, this fact is often brought up as smoking gun, "if it wasn't dangerous, why did they remove it?" Sometimes you can't win.

However, multi-dose shots like the flu vaccine do still use it but these are still available in non-thimerosal forms.

All vaccines routinely recommended for children 6 years of age and younger in the U.S. are available in formulations that do not contain thimerosal.
Thimerosal and Vaccines
Thimerosal is a compound that has been widely used as a preservative in a number of biological and drug products. All vaccines routinely recommended for children 6 years of age and younger in the U.S. are available in formulations that do not contain thimerosal. The use of thimerosal as a preserva…

So in those shots? How much? (Using this source)

To get an idea, let's understand what 1 mL, one thousandth of a liter looks like:

1 mL. By the way, that's carrot juice to show contrast, not what the vaccine actually looks like.

A vaccine is typically half that quantity, 0.5mL. Here's what that looks like:

Notice it's actually just a few drops. And that's the whole vaccine. If it had thimerosal in it, how much would that be?

In the flu vaccine, thimerosol is 0.01%. Notice there are about five drops in the above clip. Each 0.1 mL is approximately a drop of liquid. So a drop is 20% of the vaccine. Doing the math, that means the thimerosal is 0.05% of a drop! That's 0.0005 mL. It's so small, we typically say it's 0.01 micro Liter.

Lean in, we're going to show you what that looks like:

See the thin blue line at the bottom? This is the scale we're working at.

We ingest mercury all the time.

Mercury is not as rare as you think, and we already consume it at safe levels.

Sources

  1. https://www.fda.gov/vaccines-blood-biologics/safety-availability-biologics/thimerosal-and-vaccines
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/exposurereport/pdf/FourthReport_UpdatedTables_Volume1_Jan2019-508.pdf
  3. Mercury Factsheet | National Biomonitoring Program | CDC
  4. Mercury Levels in Commercial Fish and Shellfish (1990-2012) | FDA

But how bad is it?

We must first understand the difference between ethyl- and methylmercury (etHg and meHg respectively). meHg is commonly in foods and is more toxic than etHg.

Ethylmercury, on the other hand, can be broken down by the body easily as long as it's introduced in the body at a safe level.

Usually this information is left out and the focus instead is on etHg, like meHg being a neurotoxin. This sounds pretty scary until you realize that neurotoxicity is based on dosage.

Ethanol is a neurotoxin. It's the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverage and is produced naturally in some foods. Really, it lives in any yeast habitat and yeasts are everywhere.

Glutamate is a neurotoxin and it's also naturally occuring as a neurotransmitter in all vertebrates.

The CDC has a great resource explaining the history and efficacy of thimerosol in vaccines

https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/patient-ed/conversations/downloads/vacsafe-thimerosal-color-office.pdf

Have studies shown thimerosal is safe?

But of course.

Thimerosal-containing vaccines and deficit in child development: Population-based study in southern Brazil. - PubMed - NCBI
PubMed comprises more than 30 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites.
Immunization Safety Review: Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines and Neurodevelopmental Disorders - PubMed - NCBI
PubMed comprises more than 30 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites.
A randomized, controlled trial in children to assess the immunogenicity and safety of a thimerosal-free trivalent seasonal influenza vaccine. - PubMed - NCBI
PubMed comprises more than 30 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites.
Safety and immunogenicity of an inactivated thimerosal-free influenza vaccine in infants and children. - PubMed - NCBI
PubMed comprises more than 30 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites.

Today, unfortunately, a father-son team are messing with the data.

Adam Grant

Adam Grant