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April 26, 2000

Preventing Harm From Thimerosal in Vaccines

Author Affiliations

Phil B.FontanarosaMD, Deputy EditorIndividualAuthorStephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Contributing EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2000;283(16):2104-2105. doi:10.1001/jama.283.16.2101

To the Editor: The editorial by Dr Halsey1 presents a positive picture of the events surrounding the new recommendations for vaccines containing thimerosal; in my view, what happened was nothing less than a public health disaster.

All events unfolded from the more or less accidental discovery that some infants might receive more mercury than is thought to be safe by the Environmental Protection Agency, although not in excess of that allowed by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.2 Those guidelines are designed to provide at least a 10-fold margin of safety. In other words, the permissible amounts are well below those thought to be potentially toxic.