During last year’s flu season some small children and pregnant women might have gotten a flu shot containing mercury. A state audit disclosed that some pregnant women and young children received the vaccine containing a mercury preservative called thimerosal. Many providers were unaware that the legislature passed a law in 2005 requiring providers to order thimerosal free flu vaccines. The law went into effect in April 2007.
"Usually health care providers order their flu vaccine for a year in February and March before the fall flu season and some providers in Missouri when they ordered their flu vaccine in 2007 didn’t know about the law and didn’t order any of this thimerosal free vaccine," said state department of health spokesman Nanci Gonder. "We at the state health department have not been informed of any problems with any pregnant women or young child who received this vaccine and we do have a means where adverse effects are reported to us."
The audit cited the state health department for not informing providers of the change. The state health department is already putting a process in place to prevent that from happening again, Gonder said.
"It really should be fairly simple to notify health care providers when laws such as immunization laws change," she said. "We hope to work through the Board of Healing Arts, which licenses all physicians in the state, to have them notify their members."