A few days ago, while surfing on Google, I came across this article titled – Is your vaccine preservative-free? To say that I was stumped would be an understatement. I was shocked. I knew vaccinations contain live viruses, killed viruses and inactivated bacterial toxins. However, I never knew that vaccines often contain preservatives, adjuvants and/or additives.
Surprised, right? I couldn’t stay still after that and got busy reading about vaccinations and why we need preservative-free vaccines.
What is the primary preservative used in vaccines?
Vaccines use thimerosal as a preservative. Thimerosal is a mercury-based preservative that has been used in multi-dose vials (vials containing more than one dose) of medicines and vaccines. Thimerosal is added to these vials to prevent the growth of germs like bacteria and fungi at the time of administration.
However, thimerosal is quickly eliminated by the body and hence is less likely to cause harm.
As I read on, I discovered that there are other additives in vaccines.
This was the time to talk to an expert on vaccines. I contacted my daughter’s doctor and asked for an appointment to clear my doubts. Yes, I did get chastised by her for panicking after reading about mercury. She told me a few more details about the preservative and the mercury that is in vaccines and whether it is actually harmful or not.
Mercury is a naturally occurring element found in the earth’s crust, soil, water etc. At high levels, mercury can be toxic and can have harmful effects on the central nervous system, skin and kidneys. However, mercury becomes harmful only after it reaches a certain level in the body. The mercury found in thimerosal is eliminated or excreted by the body quickly so that it does not accumulate.
There was a rising concern amongst parents that thimerosal leads to autism in children. Well, there are no scientific studies that support that claim. In fact, scientific studies conducted in the US and other countries support the safety of thimerosal-containing vaccines.
However, in the United States in July 1999, the Public Health Service agencies, the American Academy of Paediatrics, and vaccine manufacturers agreed to reduce or eliminate thimerosal in vaccines to avoid potential risk to the health of children. And that’s how preservative-Free vaccines came into the market.
What I Suggest?
I know there is no data to suggest that vaccines with preservatives cause harm. However, I would not want to risk my family’s well-being. Hence, the next time I go to the doctor to get the vaccination for my child or myself, I will make sure to ask if the vaccine is preservative-free. Yes, preservative-free vaccines are now available in India. And I will certainly opt for it. And I suggest you do the same.
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