What is the risk of mercury toxicity from thimerosal?

Updated: Nov 05, 2018
  • Author: David A Olson, MD; Chief Editor: Tarakad S Ramachandran, MBBS, MBA, MPH, FAAN, FACP, FAHA, FRCP, FRCPC, FRS, LRCP, MRCP, MRCS  more...
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Answer

Thimerosal is a mercury-containing preservative used in some vaccines and other products since the 1930s. No harmful effects have been reported from thimerosal at doses used in vaccines, except for minor reactions, such as redness and swelling at the injection site. However, in July 1999, the Public Health Service agencies, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and vaccine manufacturers agreed that thimerosal should be reduced or eliminated in vaccines as a precautionary measure. Today, with the exception of some influenza vaccines, none of the vaccines used in the United States to protect preschool children against 12 infectious diseases contain thimerosal as a preservative. [58]


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