About fifteen years ago, vaccinations were composed of the medicine and a saline solution. The saline solution contained a chemical known as thimerosal. It was thought to be quite safe because the saline solutions used by contact lens wearers had thimerosal in it and there hadn’t been any reports of of side effects or problems with its use in this capacity.
Shortly thereafter, a small percentage of people began to have reactions to the thimerosal. Increased complications of eye infections and diseases and even temporary blindness were reported. Studies showed that these people were highly sensitive to the ethyl mercury in the thimerosal, despite the fact that it was in small doses. It was then banned from saline solutions for contact lens wearers, but not from the use in vaccines.
About the same time, more and more children were being diagnosed with autism. Unsure of where to begin looking, the assumption of research groups was that it had to be connected to a common event in the first two years of a child’s life. In a very large majority of those cases, the well baby and healthy child vaccines the children were given from infancy to toddlerhood was the only thing that really tied them altogether. The second common denominator was that the vaccines during this time contained thimerosal, which in this case acts as a preservative.
The thought behind this is that the ethyl mercury in the thimerosal is affecting the growing brains of the children who receive them. Mercury of any kind is a poison to humans, and when people have been in contact with small doses of it over time it was shown to create brain damage and even severe mental health issues. Because autistic brains have shown to be altered on neurological scans, some people have made the leap from vaccines to autism in a single bound.
There is a difference in the mercury used in some vaccines versus the mercury which has been banned in the United States since the late 1960’s. The ethyl mercury in thimerosal in a small percentage of multidose vaccine vials isn’t the same as methyl mercury, the contaminant in fish from polluted rivers or very old thermometers. Interestingly enough, no one has bothered to question whether or not the last generation that grew up with mercury in their thermometers are the ones currently bearing the greatest number of children diagnosed with autism.
As for thimerosal, and ethyl mercury, they have been banned from the majority of most vaccines since 2001. Flu vaccines still occasionally use it because the shelf life of flu vaccines is otherwise extremely short without it. In short, there’s a lot of hoopla over pediatric medicines at fault for autism, but definitely not enough to back it as absolute truth. If you are still concerned, you have the right as a parent to ask for vaccines that do not contain thimerosal or ethyl mercury; pediatricians have to honor that and provide the vaccinations without these chemicals in them.