Health leaders have declared a shortage of mercury-free vaccines.
The declaration allows Delaware doctors to use the flu vaccine that contains mercury, called thimerosal, for pregnant women and children younger than eight years old. Under normal conditions, Delaware Code bans the use of vaccine that contains mercury for those two groups. Special conditions need to be met to for the director of the Division of Public Health to override that ban, and Dr. Karyl Rattay has done just that.
“Public Health has heard from medical providers that thimerosal-free vaccine has become difficult to access,” said Rattay. “And we know that pregnant women and young children are particularly vulnerable to the flu. Public Health wants to ensure that vaccine is available for those who need it in Delaware.”
Rattay says because Delaware is experiencing a mercury-free vaccine shortage and the Centers for Disease Control has declared a flu epidemic, the ban should be lifted. In Delaware, there have been two flu-related deaths this month, and 713 confirmed cases of the flu. At this time last year, there had been just four confirmed cases and no deaths.
Under the state law, medical providers who administer a vaccine that contains mercury must “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.”
The FDA has studied thimerosal and found no ill effects other than “minor local reactions at the site of the injection.”
The DPH is still working to get more Delawareans vaccinated with a pair of free flu clinics for the public on Thursday. The vaccine will be available without an appoint for residents six months old and older at Legislative Hall in Dover from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the library. The vaccine will be given out for free at the Delaware City Community Center for residents nine years old and older.
Vaccines are also available by appointment at the following locations:
Hudson State Service Center
age 6 months and older, 501 Ogletown Rd., Newark, 302-283-7578
Middletown Health Unit,
age 9 years and older, 214 N. Broad St., Middletown, 302-378-5200
Adams State Service Center,
age 6 months and older, 546 S. Bedford St., Georgetown, 302-856-5213
Williams State Service Center,
age 6 months and older, 805 River Rd., Dover, 302-857-5130
age 3 years and older, 253 NE Front St., Milford, 302-424-7130
Porter State Service Center,
age 6 months and older, 511 W. 8th St., Wilmington, 302-777-286
Pyle State Service Center,
age 6 months and older, 34314 Pyle Center Rd., Frankford, 302-732-951
For more information abou the state’s effort to fight the flu, visit flu.delaware.gov.