In preparation for swine-flu vaccinations next month, Washington’s Health Department on Thursday temporarily suspended a rule that limits the amount of a mercury preservative in vaccines given to pregnant women and children under the age of 3.
The preservative, thimerosal, has never been linked to any health problems, said Secretary of Health Mary Selecky. But a vocal minority believes the compound could be linked to autism. The state Legislature adopted the limit in 2006.
Thimerosal has been eliminated from most vaccines in the United States, but it will be added to the bulk of the swine-flu vaccine being produced to stem a pandemic that health officials estimate could sicken more than a third of the state’s residents.