Response to "Don't Ban Thimerosal" by Dr. Laura Kahn in Asbury
Park Press (pasted below)
To the Editor:
Here is a corrected version of my letter. The earlier version contained
some typographical and syntactical errors.
To the Editor:
Dr. Laura H. Kahn’s piece. “Don’t Ban Thimerosal”. is long on opinion
but short on facts. Dr. Kahn suggests that legislation limiting the use
of thimerosal in vaccines would impose “unnecessary restrictions” on
the availability of an “effective” vaccine. She suggests that pending
NJ legislation (A-1324) would cause this restriction. This allegation
is a complete distortion of the effect of the legislation.
Section 1.d. of the NJ bill provides that higher levels of thimerosal
in vaccines may be used in the case of a disease outbreak
or vaccine shortage. Thus Dr. Kahn is incorrect to claim that the
legislation would restrict availability. The greatest past threat to
flu vaccine supply, moreover, that occurred in 2004 when Chiron was
to destroy 50 million contaminated doses of flu vaccines, involved
thimerosal-containing vaccines. Limiting thimerosal would not have
affected this cause of supply shortage, which implicated thimerosal’s
effectiveness as an anti-bacterial agent in vaccines. In addition, for
there has been an oversupply of flu vaccine, with
manufacturers having to destroy unused doses of vaccine at the end of
the flu season. Thus, Dr. Kahn's concern that the NJ legislation would
affect supply is misplaced, and overlooks much more serious factors
that affect flu vaccine supply.
Dr. Kahn wrongheadedly calls the New Jersey proposal “anti-immunization
legislation.” This gross mischaracterization betrays Dr. Kahn’s bias as
the New Jersey legislation would not in any way restrict immunization.
Rather, the legislation would inspire public confidence in vaccines
because mercury, universally recognized as a potent neurotoxin, would
be reduced in vaccines.
Thimerosal has been used in vaccines for more than 70 years, but has
never been adequately tested for safety or proven to be safe. The FDA
approved its use by a “grandfather” mechanism that allowed its use
because it was in use before the FDA existed. Contrary to Dr. Kahn’s
assertion, vaccine manufacturers such as Sanofi-Pasteur have
categorically stated (by Sanofi spokesperson Len Lavenda) that they can
manufacture enough doses of thimerosal-reduced vaccine to meet the
demand for use in children and pregnant women. In the United States
distribution using single dose vials or syringes is, therefore, not an
issue. The cost would only be pennies greater than current cost; surely
a cost of pennies per dose is worthwhile when the safety of our
children is in question.
Dr. Kahn’s suggestion that multiple studies have demonstrated that
thimerosal in vaccines cause no harm is false. The studies on which Dr.
Kahn presumably relies, population based statistical studies, cannot be
used to disprove an association between thimerosal and
neurodevelopmental disorders, according to Thomas Verstraeten, the
primary CDC author of the principal United States study. Early versions
of the U.S. study, not disclosed to the public but obtained via the
Freedom of Information Act, did show an association between thimerosal
and neurological disorders. Other studies that vaccine promoters like
Dr. Kahn choose to ignore do show an association between
thimerosal-containing vaccines and neurodevelopmental disorders. Even
the Institute of Medicine’s ("IOM") report on this subject could not
rule out the possibility that mercury might cause problems in subsets
of children, and the authors of that review stated that mercury causes
neurological and immune problems. The IOM has reported that the link
between thimerosal-containing vaccines and neurodevelopmental disorders
is "biologically plausible."
No one who supports the limitation of mercury in New Jersey’s vaccines
suggests that flu vaccines should be banned, as Dr. Kahn misleadingly
suggests, What we who are concerned about vaccine safety for our
children want is safe and responsible vaccination by elimination or
reduction of mercury in solutions that are injected into children and
pregnant women. To say, as does Dr. Kahn, that reducing avoidable
mercury exposure via vaccines is "bad public health policy" is
recklessly irresponsible, when recent studies (Palmer , Windham)
clearly show an association between mercury and autism spectrum
In the interest of the health of our children and safe vaccination
practice urge your Assembly members to vote yes on A- 1324.
Robert J. Krakow, Esq.
Advocates for Children’s Health Affected by Mercury Poisoning
2001 Marcus Avenue, Suite N125
Lake Success, NY 11042