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More vaccine research needed as mercury withdrawn

30 August 2000

More vaccine research needed as mercury withdrawn

Green Party MP Sue Kedgley said today the imminent removal of mercury from vaccines highlights the need for research into the side-effects of vaccines.

Ms Kedgley said urgent research is needed to establish whether toxic substances such as formaldehyde, routinely used in vaccinations administered to babies and young children, pose any health risks.

The phasing out of mercury comes 14 months after the European Agency for the Evaluation of all Medicinal Products (EAEMP) put out a world-wide health alert recommending a switch to mercury-free vaccines for infants and toddlers as a precautionary measure 'in the shortest possible time-frame'.

The Ministry of Health said in response to written questions from Ms Kedgley that mercury has been used as a preservative in 23 different vaccines.

Until this month's phase-out, the childhood vaccination programme exposed toddlers to a cumulative dose of more than 200 micrograms of mercury - more than the safety level for a single adult dose.

All new vaccines will be thiomersal (mercury) free from the end of this month, but one remaining vaccine in the childhood vaccination series does contain mercury and will continue to be used until stocks run out. Ms Kedgley said she had been unable to get a straight answer from the Government on when that would be.

Ms Kedgley said today she was concerned that questions to the government have also revealed that formaldehyde, a known animal carcinogen, and aluminium are also routinely used in vaccines.

"I am concerned at the use of such substances in childhood vaccinations and would like to see urgent research into any health risks posed by traces of formaldehyde and aluminium in vaccines," she said.

Formaldehyde exposure even at very low doses has been linked with neurological and immune system damage while aluminium has been linked with Alzheimer's disease.

A copy of written questions (and replies) on vaccines from Sue Kedgley to the Minister of Health are available on request.

Sue Kedgley MP: 04 470 6728 or 025 270 9088 Gina Dempster, Press secretary: 04 470 6723 or 021 1265 289

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