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Delaware Health Alert Network #250

June 6, 2011 11:20 AM

Health Advisory

The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) has re-issued declarations allowing Delaware physicians to use two vaccines containing mercury (thimerosal) as a preservative. These vaccines are not available in mercury-free formulations. The declarations are effective for 12 months.

Normally, Title 16 §510 of the Delaware Code bans the use of mercury containing vaccine for pregnant women and children younger than 8 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 declarations allowing the use of mercury containing vaccine for pregnant women and children younger than 8 years of age are for the following vaccines:

  • Tetanus / diphtheria (Td) vaccine is available only in a mercury containing preparation. The vaccine is administered to children 7 years and older.
  • Diphtheria / Tetanus (DT) vaccine is available only in a mercury containing preparation. The vaccine is used to protect children younger than 7 years of age who cannot receive the mercury-free Diphtheria / Tetanus / Pertussis (DTaP) vaccine because they are intolerant to the Pertussis (P) component.

The law requires a provider administering a 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.”

Unlike past years, Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) vaccine is not included in this year’s declaration because JEV vaccine is now available in a mercury free preparation. The vaccine is recommended for adults and children traveling to areas where Japanese encephalitis virus infection is common. Additional product information is available @ http://www.fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/UCM142570.pdf

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


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