Marco Cáceres di Iorio

The Trouble With Traces

Perhaps the most common critique of President Obama is that he is too nuanced. He sees the world in shades of grey instead of black and white. The guy’s nice enough, but he just doesn’t get that things are either good or bad, right or wrong. All this subtlety business is for the birds. Either something is true or it’s false. Right?

So when the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states on its website, “Thimerosal (mercury) was removed from all childhood vaccines in 2001 with the exception of inactivated flu vaccine in multi-dose vials.” … the US public should simply take the institution at its word, because, well… either it states the truth or it doesn’t. Right?

Uh, not so much. You see, apparently the CDC has allowed itself to define a vaccine as being free of thimerosal if the vaccine contains .03 micrograms or less of the toxin. The CDC believes that .03 micrograms or less of thimerosal has “no biological effect”, and thus is the same as not having any at all. It’s what the CDC refers to as “trace” amounts. The Food and Drug Administration ( FDA) has a different take on what trace amounts means — .01 microgram of less.

Watch and listen to the following testimony by Dr. Karen Midthun of the FDA’s Office of Vaccines Research & Review… start at 3:10: Congressman Dan Burton Grills FDA Representative Over Mercury. She says:

All vaccines for the routine recommended childhood immunization series started 2001 have been manufactured either thimerosal free or with markedly reduced amounts of thimerosal. Now that’s just the vaccines that are in the routinely recommended childhood immunization schedule.


Bear in mind that with children who have peanut allergies, ingesting even trace amounts of peanuts can cause them to have a severe allergic reaction, go into anaphylactic shock, and die. Trace amounts is nothing to sneeze at, especially when you’re injecting it directly into a child’s bloodstream repeatedly.

But it’s all nuance, you see. You think something is either one way or the other, when in fact it’s not. It’s complicated and ever so grey, and so sometimes it’s better to deceive the public by not telling it straight and risk opening up a can of worms that might encourage people to ask a lot of silly questions.

The honest answer to the question of whether there is thimerosal in certain childhood vaccines is, “Yes, but not very much.” Now that wasn’t so hard, was it.


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