May I have some mercury with my H1N1 vaccine?

I was strolling through a Farmer's Market (who knew Farmer's Markets were open in the South in Jan?!) with my mother, a pediatrician, and she was telling me about her recent run-in with the Big Guys at the Children's Hospital where she works.

In case you missed the headlines on your local news station, the H1N1 vaccine is still being pushed hard and heavy to the masses here on the homefront. Despite the fact that it has still not been tested for efficiency or safety on pregnant mothers, children, or babies, those are the groups that continue to be targeted. The package insert of the H1N1 vaccines state:

Safety and effectiveness of Influenza A (H1N1) 2009 Monovalent Vaccine have not been established in pregnant women, nursing mothers, or in persons less than 18 years of age.

Really, we don't have safety results for H1N1 vaccines used in the adult population either. In fact, when the last H1N1 scare hit the nation, we saw more illness and death from the vaccine that was passed around than we ever saw from the actual 'swine flu'.

Being in-the-know on these things, a good majority of the physicians at the Children's Hospital opted out of shooting themselves up with an untested vaccine that we are not entirely sure about. Most of them did not give it to their children. Some did take the vaccine as a precautionary measure because they were working in the NICU... but others produced research demonstrating that by just taking the H1N1 vaccine, it would put them at greater chance of not being able to do their job (if they had a reaction). Those working with babies were unable to accept the live-form of the vaccine, which is more prevalent anyway.

Of course the CDC doesn't like this very much and there was some heavy hoopla in several hospitals around the country when doctors started refusing the vaccine for themselves. Can they be forced to take it? Isn't it protecting those that they work with? Hmmm... And so fights broke out and eventually it was declared (again) that unless you are under the age of 18, no one can force you (doctor or not) to take a vaccine against your will.

But we sure can pressure you!

My mother was one of many physicians who did not get the H1N1, and did not get the seasonal flu shot either, for that matter. She is regularly one of the healthiest in her practice - joined by others who also decline the flu vaccines.

However, docs are regularly reviewed by their superiors and it was my mother's turn to be up for review. When the hospital for which you work earns a profit of $30 per shot, and they are funded with federal $$$ to comply by CDC wishes, then you best be dishing out some shots! Needless to say, it was slipped under the table that my mother 'better get her H1N1' or consequences could ensue. Interesting.

"Have you READ the labels, Mom?!" I asked.

"OH, yes," she replied, and shook her head.

I asked how many of the children at her hospital received one of the recalled batches of contaminated H1N1. None, she said. They received word on the recall right before that round of vaccines was to be given. It was instead thrown away.

We talked some more about the ingredients in the vaccine: Formaldehyde, Thimerosal (Mercury), Surfactant (used also as spermicide), Chicken embryos...

I am sure by now you have each decided for yourself whether or not you and your child will get (or have gotten) the H1N1 vaccine.

But what the general public is too often not privy to are all the ingredients that make up these shots.

It takes a little cautious parenting, and a lot of conscientious research to figure out what is best when it comes to vaccines - on a vax by vax basis. Especially in the midst of the AAP rolling out their newer, bigger, badder vaccine schedule for babies this year.

But this particular one is a vaccine that is slightly shocking at best, and downright scary at worst.

Needless to say, my mother will still not be getting hers.

label from the H1N1 vaccine

If you are starting out on your journey into vaccination decision making, this is a list of books that present a fairly complete and accurate picture of each individual vaccine and the disease it was designed for.


  1. It's good you posted this! Nobody in my family received the flu vaccines and it looked like things were finally calming down. However now, everyone is gearing up for the "second round" of swine flu this season that is promising to be even worse than the first. This is perfect timing for this blog post as we all need to be reminded not to give in to the hysteria!

  2. Oh yes, that was my 'one liner' thought enticer for pregnant women who wanted to talk with me about the H1N1 vaccine.

    I said to them, "If your OB is encouraging you to get this shot, ask him for proof that he got the shot, too."

    I was surprised by how few of them wanted to know (scared of the truth perhaps?)

    Sadly, the rest of the developed world is eons ahead of America. They are only offering it to pregnant women well into the 2nd trimester who have risk factors for H1N1. Meanwhile in America, the shot is being pushed on women in all gestational periods.

    A quick google search brings up many forums where women noted a miscarriage immediately following vaccination. This is currently not being acknowledged by our government or the vaccine companies.

    Pregnant? Scared? Unsure what to do? Ask your doctor for a simple blood test to see if you have IgG2 deficiency. Read this for more information:


  3. As soon as all the hoopla started, I made sure to print out the vaccine inserts. At work, they were really pushing the vaccine (no clue why, since it's a nursing home and the elderly population isn't even at risk for this illness). When I signed my declination form, I attached the pages from the insert which state that the vaccine has not been tested on pregnant women and that it is not recommended unless deemed necessary.

  4. I live in Canada and I decided to get my children vaccinated because I thought it was the best choice for my family seeing as how several children had contracted the virus and died. Were there extenuating conditions and circumstances, probably, but I didn't want to chance it.
    Neither of them had any reaction, but before the vaccination became effective, my daughter contracted the virus and was hospitalized, and was put in isolation. She has been sick maybe a couple times in her six years, so she was very healthy. It was very scary to watch her so ill with nothing I could do about it. The initial symptoms disappeared quickly once she was given antivirals (vomiting, fever, etc) but it has taken a toll on her and I feel like she still hasn't fully recovered. Her immune system is definitely not as strong as it once was and she has been sick more since contracting the H1N1 virus than she has ever been in her life.
    All this to say that there is no easy decision about these things. I hesitated and waited to get my kids vaccinated because I was afraid of this new and unknown vaccine. Now I can't help but wonder if I had gotten the vaccine initially, would she have been able to avoid this.
    I hate all of this uncertainty that surrounds all vaccinations. It's very difficult to be confident that you are doing what is best for your child regardless of what you decide. Vaccinating is probably one of the most difficult choices I have had to make as a mother, and I hope I've made the right one.

  5. FYI - if one were to go for the single dose pre-filled syringe/needle combo there is no thermisol in it...

  6. You can never completely titrate out mercury from a vaccine. The DPaT is available in a single dose and still has <0.3 mcg/dose compared to 25 mcg/dose in a multiple dose vial, which is quite a bit less, but there is no "safe" amount of mercury to inject into a human being.



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