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Delaware Health Alert Network #141

October 29, 2007 4:18 pm

Health Advisory

In 2005, the Delaware General Assembly passed legislation intended to phase out mercury from all vaccines administered to children younger than 8 years old and to pregnant women within the state of Delaware by January 2008.

However, a more recent amendment to the law required that no vaccine containing any level of mercury be administered to children less than eight (8) years of age or pregnant women as of June 20, 2007.

The law allows that “the prohibition against the use of vaccines containing mercury shall not apply” when the DPH declares a shortage of mercury-free vaccine which could threaten the health of groups of individuals within the State including children less than eight (8) years of age or pregnant women and that additional mercury-free vaccine cannot be made available from other means.

Please be advised that DPH has determined that a shortage of the following vaccines currently exists and has issued an order permitting them to be used in children less than 8 years and pregnant women. This order is in effect for 12 months.

  1. Mercury-free flu vaccine for the 2007-2008 season that is administered to pregnant women and children 3 to 8 years with contraindications to the regular flu shot. Supplies are adequate for other individuals.
  2. Mercury-free diphtheria /tetanus vaccine (DT), which is used to protect children 7 years and younger who cannot receive the whooping cough vaccine for diphtheria and tetanus. The sole manufacturer of this vaccine does not produce a mercury-free brand.
  3. Japanese encephalitis vaccine, which is recommended for those who plan to reside for a month or longer in areas where Japanese encephalitis infection is common. The sole manufacturer of this vaccine does not produce a mercury-free brand.

DPH encourages providers to maximize the use of mercury-free influenza vaccine for children less than 8 years and pregnant women by prioritizing their stock of mercury-free vaccine for this population.  Mercury containing flu vaccine should be used in this population as permitted by the DPH order only when a provider has none available and it cannot be obtained.

In developing flu vaccine strategies, providers are reminded that Flumist does not contain mercury and can be used to immunize children 2-8 years provided there is no contraindication.

Providers who have questions may contact the Immunization program at 1-800-282-8672 or 302-741-2950.

Categories of Health Alert messages:

  • Health Alert: Conveys the highest level of importance; warrants immediate action or attention.
  • Health Advisory: Provides important information for a specific incident or situation; may not require immediate action.
  • Health Update: Provides updated information regarding an incident or situation; unlikely to require immediate action.
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