Thimerosal INEFFECTIVE as a Vaccine Preservative

Despite the fact that there were never proper studies done to evaluate the potential toxicity of thimerosal prior to marketing, there is ample evidence provided by federal agencies and independent scientists that spans the last 70 years which documents that thimerosal is not an effective or safe vaccine preservative. In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1948 titled “The bacteriostatic and bactericidal actions of some mercurial compounds on hemolytic streptococci,” the authors vigorously argued that thimerosal was ineffective as a “disinfectant, germicide and antiseptic.” In the review of the literature in this paper, the authors cited eight studies from 1928, 1935, 1937, 1938,

and 1944 all of which drew similar conclusions.5

In 1975, the FDA convened a panel of experts which included the lead author of the 1948 paper cited above to evaluate mercury-containing over-the-counter (OTC) products. The panel issued its reports in 1980 and in 1982. The FDA issued a report of the panel’s findings in the Federal Register where they concluded that “some mercury-containing preparations are not effective and others are not safe and effective for OTC topical

antimicrobial use. 6 A bacteriostatic action that is capable of being reversed by contact with body fluids and other organic matter does not constitute an effective topical antimicrobial action…” Most of the literature reviewed addressed mercury’s lack of antibacterial properties. One study reviewed published in 1970 titled, “Three thousand years of mercury. A plea for abandonment of a dangerous, unproven therapy,” addressed

mercury’s lack of effectiveness regarding anti-fungal properties. 7
With respect to thimerosal in particular, the panel found evidence from 1950 which

concluded that “thimerosal was no better than water in protecting mice from potential fatal

streptococcal infections.”8 Additionally, citing a 1935 study, the panel reported that thimerosal was “35.3 times more toxic for embryonic chick heart tissue than for

Staphylococcus aureus.”9 The panel concluded that “thimerosal was not safe for OTC topical use because of its potential for cell damage if applied to broken skin and its allergy potential. It is not effective as a topical antimicrobial because its bacteriostatic action can be reversed.” However, it wasn’t until 1998 that the FDA issued its final report banning the use of thimerosal in topical OTC products because they were not “safe and


There are also several recent reports of thimerosal’s failure as a preservative. Clusters of disease from Group A streptococcus infections were traced back to multi-dose vials of diphtheria toxoid, pertussis, and tetanus toxoid (DPT) vaccine which were contaminated

after being opened. 11 Additionally, in 2004, a Chiron plant that manufactured Fluvirin

was forced to close because its vaccine was contaminated with Serratia marcescens.12 This vaccine used thimerosal as a preservative in its product. This plant closure created shortages in the vaccine supply and caused concern among providers and patients. In this case and others, thimerosal failed to prevent bacterial growth. …

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