The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) has re-issued a declaration allowing Delaware clinicians to use DT vaccine containing mercury (thimerosal) preservative for children younger than 8 (eight) years of age. The declaration is effective for 12 months.
Normally, Title 16 §510 of the Delaware Code bans the use of all mercury containing vaccine for pregnant women and children younger than 8 (eight) years. However, the DPH Director can permit the use of mercury containing vaccines if there is shortage of a mercury-free formulation, or if a mercury-free formulation does not exist.
The re-issued declaration allows for the use of thimerosal containing diphtheria/tetanus (DT) vaccine in children younger than 8 (eight) years of age. DT vaccine is available only in a preparation containing thimerosal as a preservative. The vaccine is administered to children up to age 7 years to protect against diphtheria and tetanus in instances where the pertussis (whooping cough) component of DTaP vaccine is contraindicated.
The law requires a provider administering a thimerosal (mercury) containing vaccine to “inform the client, parent or legal guardian of the client that the vaccine contains mercury, that they believe the vaccine to be medically necessary, and that the Director of Public Health has made a formal determination that the vaccine may be administered due to the existence of the shortage of mercury-free vaccines.”
For more information, please contact DPH's Immunization Program at 1-800-282-8672 or (302) 744-1060, or visit DPH’s website at http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/dpc/immunize.html