While receiving my allergy shot this week, I asked whether I could also get a flu shot against the H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine flu (though pork producers wince whenever we use that term). Sorry, not available. Why? My doctor wants to avoid the vaccine that contains thimerosal, the mercury-based preservative that some fear is associated with increased rates of autism in children. The problem right now is that supplies of the vaccine without thimerosal are in short supply, so he’s waiting.
What to do?
According to the Food and Drug Administration, thimerosal has been removed from most shots children receive, except for trace amounts in flu shots. The state of Washington has decided to allow flu shots with higher levels of thimerosal for children and pregnant women, arguing that the risk from the flu outweighs concerns about the neurotoxin preservative.