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Delaware Health Alert Network #161

November 5, 2008 11:56 am

Health Advisory

The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) on Oct 29 2008 re-issued declarations of shortage for three vaccines that do not contain thimerosal as a preservative. The declarations are effective for 12 months from the date of signature.

Jaime H. Rivera, MD, DPH Director, signed the three declarations pursuant to House Bill 108, which the Delaware General Assembly passed in 2005 and amended in June 2007. This law stipulates that a shortage cannot be declared until all sources for mercury-free vaccines are exhausted.

Pursuant to 16 Del. C. §510, a provider administering a mercury containing vaccine pursuant to this determination of shortage shall 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 vaccine.

The declarations allow health care providers to administer three vaccines which contain thimerosal to pregnant women and children younger than 8 years old when medically indicated.

The re-issued declarations cover the following vaccines:

  • Tetanus/diphtheria (Td) vaccine: available only in a thimerosal-containing preparation. The vaccine is administered to children age 7 years and older.
  • Diphtheria/tetanus (DT) vaccine: available only in a thimerosal-containing preparation. The vaccine is used to protect children younger than 7 years of age who cannot receive the thimerosal free diphtheria /tetanus /pertussis (DTaP) vaccine because they are intolerant to the pertussis component.
  • Japanese encephalitis vaccine: available only in a thimerosal containing preparation. The vaccine is recommended for adults and children traveling to areas where Japanese encephalitis virus infection is common.

The declarations are posted on the DPH website at

For questions or additional information, please contact DPH's Immunization Program at 1-800-282-8672.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.

Categories of Health Alert messages:

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  • 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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