FACTS AND FICTION ABOUT THIMEROSAL IN VACCINES
November 18, 2002
During the past 24 hours, a number of incorrect statements
have been made about the vaccine provisions in the Homeland
Security Act. The
facts are simple. These provisions
severely restrict the legal rights of parents who believe
their children have suffered neurological damage due to
scientific debate remains unresolved.
provisions do not belong in the Homeland Security Act. I hope
the following points will help separate fact from fiction.
have concluded that there is no causal
connection between mercury-containing thimerosal and
neurological disorders such as autism.
FACT: In 2001, the
respected Institute of Medicine concluded
that a connection between thimerosal and autism, while
unproven, is "biologically plausible." The IOM called for
further research, stating, "the evidence is inadequate
accept or reject a causal relationship between exposure to
thimerosal from vaccines and neurological developmental
disorders of autism, ADHD, and speech and language
FACT: Researchers in
the state of California concluded this
year that there is no statistical explanation for the nearly
300% increase in cases of autism in that state. "It is
astounding to see a threefold increase in autism with no
explanation," said Dr. Robert Byrd, an epidemiologist
the study. "There's a number of things that need to be
answered. We need to rethink the possible causes of
FACT: An internal
HHS document produced to the House
Government Reform Committee during its investigation into
vaccine safety described what it referred to as a "weak
signal" in its data linking thimerosal to neurological
"Preliminary screening of ICD-9 codes for possible
and renal conditions following exposures to vaccines
containing thimerosal before 3 months of age showed a
statistical association for the overall category of
neurological developmental disorders and for two conditions
within the category, speech delay and attention deficit
FACT: If there were
no concerns that scientific research
would demonstrate a connection between thimerosal and
Sections 1714-1717 would not have been tacked onto the
Homeland Security Act in the eleventh hour with no debate.
1714-1717 do not eliminate the rights of
vaccine-injured individuals to sue manufacturers of vaccines
and their components.
Proponents of these provisions have
stated that once individuals have gone through the Vaccine
Injury Compensation Program they can still choose to file a
civil law suit.
FACT: For many
families who believe their children were
injured by mercury-based thimerosal, these provisions do
eliminate their right to file suits. The Vaccine Injury
Compensation Program has a narrow 3-year statute of
many families were unaware of the
program, they were unable to file a petition on time.
Sections 1714-1717 take away their only remaining legal
has now been removed from all childhood
vaccines and is therefore no longer a concern.
thimerosal has recently been removed from most
pediatric vaccines used in the United States, it is still
in the flu vaccine given every year to millions of
including children as young as six months old.
FACT: The argument
that thimerosal has been removed from most
pediatric vaccines is beside the point. Because the FDA was
painfully slow to seek the removal of thimerosal during the
1990's, millions of children across the country were exposed
to this mercury-based preservative at a time when concerns
about its health effects were emerging. The legal rights of
these children should not be curtailed.
Please vote to strip Sections 1714-1717 from the Homeland
Fifteen years ago, only 1 in 10,000 children
was autistic. Today that number has skyrocketed to 1 in 250.
Let's not be stampeded into cutting off the legal rights of
these children without hearings and a full public debate.
House Committee on Government Reform