October 8, 1999
Flu Vaccine: Stay Out of My Womb!
Commentary by Dawn Richardson
Pregnant women everywhere know the feeling of making it to the milestone of
their second trimester. For most, queasiness starts to subside, energy
returns in spurts, and of course there is that indescribable feeling of
becoming aware of your developing baby's movements.
You've altered your diet, exercised, stayed away from over the counter
medications, your true hair color is revealing itself, and that wonderful
bottle of wine with the Surgeon General's warning will continue stay buried
in the back of the refrigerator awaiting the skinnier days ahead.
You ask yourself, "Is there anything more that I can do for me and my baby
during the remainder of my pregnancy?" Well, according to the Centers for
Disease Control (CDC) and the federal government's Advisory Committee on
Immunization Practices (ACIP) there is - get the flu vaccine before this
year's flu season hits. According to the CDC and ACIP, it was estimated
that an average of 1 to 2 hospitalizations among pregnant women could be
prevented for every 1,000 pregnant women immunized. (Prevention and Control
of Influenza: Recommendations of ACIP. MMWR - May 1, 1998; 47)
My initial pregnant maternally protective hormonal response to this was
utter disbelief. How could a biological pharmaceutical product be
recommended for routine use for all healthy second and third trimester
pregnant women? As I looked into this further, I became outraged and
inspired to share the truth with pregnant women so they could make up their
own minds. Here is what I found.
There are four drug manufacturers for this year's flu vaccine. The product
package inserts published by the manufacturers state the disclaimer that
"Animal reproduction studies have not been conducted with influenza virus
vaccine. It is also not known whether influenza virus vaccine can cause
fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman...Although animal
reproductive studies have not been conducted, the prescribing health-care
provider should be aware of the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on
Immunization Practices...The ACIP states that, if used during pregnancy,
administration of influenza virus vaccine after 14 weeks of gestation may be
preferable to avoid coincidental association of the vaccine with early
Additional reading and phone calls to the manufacturers confirmed that all
four flu vaccines contain thimerosal, a mercury derivative preservative
banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in over-the-counter (OTC)
drug preparations because of questions over safety. (Federal Register: April
22, 1998 (Volume 63, Number 77)][Page 19799-19802].
On July 7, 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the United
States Public Health Service (PHS) issued a joint statement that because of
the "neuro-developmental effects posed by exposure to thimerosal",
"thimerosal-containing vaccines should be removed as soon as possible."
The PHS and AAP recognized that because of thimerosal in vaccines, some
children would be exposed to "a cumulative level of mercury over the first
six months of life that exceeds one of the federal guidelines on methyl
mercury." Hospitals around the country responded this summer by halting the
administration of the thimerosal containing vaccine for hepatitis B at
birth, deferring vaccination until the baby is older and more developed.
What about my beloved little baby that isn't even developed enough to live
outside the womb yet?
A quick internet search showed that even the CDC, in a revealing
self-contradiction at another location, posted "Q. Who is most vulnerable
to mercury? A. Two groups are most vulnerable to methyl mercury: the fetus
and children ages 14 and younger."
(http://www.cdc.gov/nip/Q&A/genqa/Thimerosal.htm) More searching on the
National Library of Medicine site almost effortlessly produced hundreds of
articles and studies in medical and scientific journals clearly documenting
the damaging effects of prenatal exposure to mercury. The results of one
recent study published in the August 1, 1999 issue of the American Journal
of Epidemiology stated that "the greatest susceptibility to methylmercury
neurotoxicity occurs during late gestation, while early postnatal
vulnerability is less" which is the precise point in time that ACIP and the
CDC is recommending we get the shot.
I then decided to call the CDC's Influenza Division myself, as a pregnant
mother baffled by this scientifically unfounded and potentially unsafe
recommendation. Maybe I was missing something that an "expert" could reveal
for me. I was told that there was no scientific proof that the flu vaccine
caused fetal harm. Well of course not, the manufacturers are right up front
when they state that this hasn't been studied - isn't that convenient. I
was also told that the CDC had no intention to change the recommendation for
pregnant women because of thimerosal. The doctor blamed the recent concerns
on "politics" rather than science. What a shame.
Even though the CDC does claim that a single study of a small number of
pregnant women have demonstrated no adverse fetal effects associated with
influenza vaccine; they continue and say, "however, more data are needed."
Maybe this scientifically unsubstantiated recommendation is how the CDC
plans on getting that data. So much for the Nazi war criminal trials at
Nuremberg outlawing human experimentation without informed consent.
While I would absolutely hate to be one of the 1 in 1000 pregnant women
needing to go to the hospital for the flu this winter, at this point, I feel
far more threatened by the public health bureaucrats recklessly willing to
experiment on me and my unborn child with a flu vaccine not proven safe for
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Permission to distribute and print in whole and unedited given by,
President, PROVE (Parents Requesting Open Vaccine Education)
P.O. Box 1071
Cedar Park, TX 78630-1071
http://home.swbell.net/prove (web site)
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