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Bye-Bye Mercury, Hello Aluminum in Vaccines

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Between 1999 and 2002, out of concerns that mercury in vaccines may contribute to autism, several mercury-containing vaccines were phased out of the CDC’s recommended immunization schedule, with great media fanfare. In recent years six new vaccines have been added to the immunization schedule—and all of them contain aluminum. In other words, while mercury has been phased out, aluminum has been phased in.

In an article that appeared five years ago on WebMD, Dr. Paul Offit wrote that “Aluminum salts have been added to vaccines since the 1920s because they enhance the immune response.” Offit is director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and wrote the controversial book Autism’s False Prophets. Aluminum salts have been routinely added to childhood vaccines as well as vaccines against hepatitis, influenza, and pneumonia.

The problem with all this is that aluminum has a long-documented history of neurotoxic effects. Italian researchers found aluminum-containing DTP vaccines more likely than plain vaccines to cause redness or skin hardening in the younger children. Older kids had pain lasting up to fourteen days with the aluminum-containing vaccines. In 1997, the Journal of the American Medical Association published data showing premature infants who received medicines containing aluminum built up toxic levels of the mineral in their bones, brain, and blood. And there is compelling published evidence that babies with already impaired kidney function are at higher risk of aluminum toxicity. Babies are not generally screened for the health of their kidney function prior to immunization. Infants who receive the recommended schedule of immunizations have received 5000 mcg (5 mg) of aluminum by 18 months of age.

We clearly do not know why the incidence of learning and behavior disorders now affects 1 in 6 American children. Some of these children are genetically unable to detoxify mercury. Others are more sensitive to aluminum. We can, however, see a pattern of industry-influenced action by the FDA when it comes to infant safety that is sobering to many parents (see the AAHF position paper on mandatory vaccination). The FDA must err on the side of our children’s health—not on the side of drug manufacturers’ pocketbooks.

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