Thimerosal Limits Again Suspended

I am forwarding an announcement from the Washington State Dept. of Health which states it is again suspending thimerosal limits on the influenza vaccine.  Just something to keep in mind as you make your vaccine decisions.

State law  on mercury limits temporarily suspended

Secretary of Health Mary Selecky has again extended the temporary suspension of Washington’s limit on the amount of mercury (thimerosal) in influenza vaccine. It specifically allows pregnant women and children younger than three years old who have or may be at risk of a latex allergy to receive influenza vaccine from multi-dose vials. The extended suspension applies only to 2012-2013 seasonal influenza vaccine in multi-dose vials. It expires on June 30, 2013.


Washington state law limits the amount of mercury that can be in vaccines for pregnant women and children under three. The secretary of health can suspend the law when there is a shortage of vaccine, which continues to be the case for certain groups of people during the upcoming flu season.  The tip cap of the 2012-2013 single dose thimerosal-free flu vaccine that comes in pre-filled syringes may contain trace amounts of natural rubber latex. This means that children under three and pregnant women who have or may have latex allergies may be advised by their health care provider to not get vaccinated from a thimerosal-free single dose syringe. Supplies of other types of thimerosal-free flu vaccine are limited and can’t be used for all people.


Suspending the thimerosal limits law removes barriers so people can choose to be protected. Pregnant women and children under three are at high risk for serious complications if they get the flu. If a health care provider is concerned about patients in these groups having an allergic reaction to latex, this suspension allows providers and patients the opportunity to use other types of flu vaccine.


Notification requirements

When the mercury limits are suspended the law requires that certain groups be told they are getting a vaccine containing more mercury than is usually permitted. This notification requirement applies to pregnant or lactating women and parents or guardians of children under the age of 18 getting the vaccine. There is no single notification method required; the Department of Health has developed a sample notification form to help you with this. This and other related documents are available online (



Jeff Wise
Policy and Planning Coordinator
Office of Immunization and Child Profile
Washington State Department of Health
PO Box 47843
Olympia, WA 98504-7843

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