I took Sammy to the doctor last Friday for his 5 year old check up. Among other things, he was due for a flu shot. Since I had Sophie with me too, they offered to get her flu shot done at the same time as well. I agreed so that I wouldn’t have to come into the office again.
In our pediatrician’s office, they have a regular flu vaccine and an infant flu vaccine for children under age 3. I normally request the infant flu shot for both of my children because it is thimerosal-free. Sophie is not yet 3, so she would receive the infant one anyways, but I have been making special requests that Sammy receive the infant version as well.
According to the CDC, “Since 2001, with the exception of some influenza (flu) vaccines, thimerosal is not used as a preservative in routinely recommended childhood vaccines.” The FDA states: “A preservative-free version of the inactivated influenza vaccine (contains trace amounts of thimerosal) is available in limited supply at this time for use in infants, children and pregnant women. ” The older children generally get the regular or adult flu vaccine, which contains thimerosal. Thimerosal is a mercury based preservative that may or may not be linked to autism. There are numerous articles and studies both supporting and disproving the link between thimerosal and autism.
I err on the side of caution and try to avoid as much mercury as possible. However, many parents may not realize that their child’s flu shot has mercury in it. Or if they are aware of it, they may not know that there is an alternative. Since flu season is approaching, I just wanted to post this so that parents and caregivers would be aware of it and ask their pediatricians to give their children a thimerosal-free flu vaccine. Some pediatric offices only have a certain amount of infant flu vaccines, so make your child’s appointment in mid to late September to increase the chances of getting the mercury-free version.
If the infant flu vaccine is not available to your child, ask your pediatrician about the nasal flu vaccine, which is also thimerosal-free. It is marketed under the name MedImmune’s FluMist. The CDC describes in detail the brands and manufacturers of thimerosal-free flu products, but also claims that “there is no convincing evidence of harm caused by the small amount of thimerosal in vaccines, except for minor effects like swelling and redness at the injection site due to sensitivity to thimerosal.”
How do you feel about childhood immunizations and the possible link to autism? Do you believe the flu vaccine is beneficial for children? What does your child’s pediatrician say about all of this? Please share your comments below.