Thimerosal is an antiseptic and antifungal agent used as a preservative in vaccines, skin test antigens, immunoglobulin preparations, ophthalmic and nasal products, antivenins, and tattoo inks.
Thimerosal prevents certain serious adverse effects, such as Staphylococcus infection, in multidose injectable drug delivery systems. And unlike other vaccine preservatives employed when thimerosal first began being used widely, thimerosal does not reduce the potency of the vaccines that it protects.
Thimerosal's use as a vaccine preservative, however, has become controversial. The controversy is between those who claim that the mercury in thimerosal contributes to brain development disorders such as autism, and those who point out that there is no convincing scientific evidence supporting such claims.
As a precautionary measure, in the late 1990s the US Food and Drug Administration (fda.gov/">FDA), along with other agencies and advocacy groups, issued a joint statement urging vaccine makers to eliminate or reduce thimerosal in vaccines. Public health service agencies have also collaborated with investigators to further study and understand the health effects from exposure to thimerosal in vaccines.
With a few exceptions, such as for some formulations of the inactivated influenza vaccine for children older than two years, and several vaccines that are not routinely recommended for young children, thiomersal is no longer used as a preservative in routine childhood vaccination schedules in the U.S.
Thimerosal is still found in most flu shots, however, most notably in the recent H1N1 swine flu vaccines. And furthermore, because trace amounts may be used during manufacturing, Thimerosal is present in other vaccines advertised as “preservative free.”
Further fueling the Thimerosal controversy, a recent study in which rhesus macaque monkeys were administered thimerosal-containing hepatitis B vaccination revealed some noteworthy physical delays.
If you or a loved one took is suffering, or has suffered, side effects after being administered a thimerosal-containing vaccination, antivenin, or medication, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact a qualified pharmaceutical injury attorney for an evaluation of your case.