No mercury in vaccines administered on children – NAFDAC

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The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control has refuted claims that children in Nigeria were being administered a vaccine that contains 40 per cent mercury which was prescribed by foreign organisations.

The agency made this known in a press statement signed by its Director General, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye and available to The PUNCH by the agency’s Resident Media Consultant, Sayo Akintola, on Sunday.

There had been reports on some media platforms (not The PUNCH) stating that multi-dose vaccines containing 40 per cent mercury banned about 30 years ago in Europe and over 20 years ago in America are still being applied to Nigerian children’s bodies.

NAFDAC, however, said mercury is a metal and it is not used as an element or as a component of vaccines.
It said the basic components of vaccines are Antigens, adjuvants to improve immune response, antibiotics to prevent contamination during manufacturing, preservatives and stabilizers.

The statement read in part, “Thimerosal a mercuric compound which is a preservative used in multi-dose vaccines contains a different form of mercury called ethyl mercury. As a vaccine preservative, thimerosal is used in concentrations of 0.003 per cent to 0.01 per cent, (for example, thimerosal content allowed in the vaccine is between 30 parts to a maximum of 10o parts out of million parts of the vaccine formula). Thimerosal is a mercury-based preservative that has been used for decades in the United States in multi-dose vials (vials containing more than one dose) of medicines and vaccines.

“There is no evidence of harm caused by the low doses of thimerosal in vaccines, except for minor reactions like redness and swelling at the injection site. However, in July 1999, the Public Health Service agencies, the American Academy of Paediatrics, and vaccine manufacturers agreed that thimerosal should be reduced or eliminated in vaccines as a precautionary measure.

“Nigeria still receives some multi-dose vaccines which contain thimerosal but at accepted concentration.

“However, the World Health Organisation has not proscribed the use of thimerosal as an inactivating agent and preservative in vaccines as there is a lack of evidence that thimerosal presents a risk to human health.

“The WHO has closely monitored the scientific evidence relating to the use of thimerosal as a vaccine preservative for over 10 years, especially through the independent expert advisory group, the Global Advisory Committee on vaccines. The committee has constantly reached the same conclusion.

“There is no evidence to suggest that the amount of thimerosal used in vaccines poses a health risk.

“Other expert groups the U.S. Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Paediatrics, the United Kingdom Committee on Safety of Medicines, and the European Agency for Evaluation of Medicinal Products have reached similar conclusions.

“NAFDAC follows WHO approved protocol before issuing out lot release certificates before any human vaccines can be used in Nigeria, which is done after laboratory analysis and summary lot protocol review.”