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Delaware Health Alert Network #293

January 23, 2013 12:14 pm

Health Alert

The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) today issued a declaration allowing Delaware clinicians to use flu vaccine containing mercury (thimerosal) as a preservative for pregnant women and children younger than 8 years of age. The declaration is necessary because the ongoing influenza epidemic has created a surge in demand resulting in spot shortages of thimerosal free flu vaccine. The declaration will remain in effect until September 30, 2013.


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 may permit the use of mercury containing vaccines if there is a disease epidemic and/or a shortage of a mercury-free vaccine.

According to the FDA, thimerosal has been the subject of many studies and has a long record of safe and effective use preventing bacterial and fungal contamination of vaccines, with no ill effects established other than minor local reactions at the site of injection.


The law requires a provider administering a mercury containing vaccine to a pregnant woman or a child younger than 8 years 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.”

Additional Information

For more information, contact DPH’s Immunization Program at 1-800-282-8672 or (302) 744-1060.


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