Pregnant women have difficult time finding H1N1 vaccines

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

KENNETT, MO (KAIT) - The state of Missouri is trying to deliver newborn babies safely and inoculate its pregnant population for the H1N1 virus; however, recent reports in St. Louis newspapers suggest the state doesn't have enough vaccine without a mercury-based preservative.

According to Steve Neal with the Dunklin County Health Department, 200 doses of H1N1 vaccine have been delivered to his county. It has been divided among three OBGYN doctors. The county has received nearly 800 doses of the H1N1 vaccine. The remaining 600 doses have been prioritized for emergency response personnel, hospital employees and pediatricians.

Neal told Region 8 News the county would like to offer mass H1N1 flu clinics at local schools once supplies are available.

According to Missouri state law, pregnant women are not allowed to receive vaccines with thimerosal. Thimerosal is a mercury-based organic compound used as an additive in vaccines.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services describes thimerosal as "an additive in vaccines since the 1930's because it is very effective in killing bacteria and preventing bacterial contamination in multi-dose containers.  Thimerosal is an organo-mercurial (a derivative of ethyl mercury) and is approximately 50% mercury by weight.  A different form of mercury - methyl mercury, which is found in seafood, has been associated with health effects - particularly in infants whose mothers were exposed to high doses during pregnancy and has led the USDA and FDA to recommend that pregnant women and infants limit their amount of food containing mercury."

Click here for more information on thimerosal.

The neurological effects of thimerosal have lead to several courts cases which claim mercury caused health problems.

State health departments have performed studies on the adverse neurological effects and some states have banned thimerosal's use as a precautionary measure.

Region 8 News talked to several pregnant women Tuesday. Most of the women said they were not going to get H1N1 inoculations.

"I had watched the news and the doctor that was on there talked and said they did not know the risk that it could do to the baby or the fetus or anything," said Tonia Simmons.

Simmons is eight months pregnant. She's expecting a baby girl sometime in December.

"They knew it would keep us from being sick, but they had no idea what it would do to the baby. I don't want to get something done and don't know what's going to be the risk to my child when it comes out," said Simmons.

Click here for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web-site.

Simmons said she understood why some women were taking the vaccination. She said the risks associated with the vaccine outweigh any sickness she may obtain.

"The H1N1 is different from the regular flu. I guess just the different symptoms and side effects, how long it would last and what it would actually do to a pregnant person. Would it have a worse effect with you being pregnant or not being pregnant," said Simmons. "She was just saying you don't have it, but if you want to get it, you can. If you don't want to get it, then you don't have to. I told her no so she just wrote me a prescription out."

Pregnant women are not permitted to get nasal spray versions of the H1N1 drug because it contains a live virus.

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