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CDC's Dr. Schuchat Said Nothing -- and That Says a Lot

Saying nothing By Anne Dachel
Last week I came across the video (Watch HERE) featuring an hour long panel discussion of the H1N1 flu pandemic from the University of Rochester, NY that was aired on Public Television Oct 8. 
Participants included Dr. Peter Salgo, of New York Presbyterian Hospital as the host, along with Rear Admiral Anne Schuchat, MD Director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, Lisa Harris, MD Primary Care Physician Temple Medical Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, Richard Barbano, MD, PhD Professor, Department of Neurology University of Rochester Medical Center, Mark Shelly, MD Infectious Disease and Travel Medicine Highland Hospital Rochester, NY and Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, Med Executive Director, Boston Public Health Commission.
This was a public forum with audience participation which led to some very important questions and some very controversial answers. 
The first half hour was about the H1N1 virus, who’s at risk, and about the vaccine that is being provided to fight the disease. 
Thirty minutes into the discussion came questions from the audience.  One woman brought up the thimerosal issue:
“I'm Heidi from New York and I'm also a mother of a 4-year-old.  And I'm concerned about mercury levels in the vaccine.  Is there a dangerous level of mercury in the vaccine, particularly for pregnant women and their unborn child.  And the rest of the general public.  And, can I request a vaccine with no mercury?”
 Schuchat was quick to respond with all the standard denials:

“So, the mercury that you're speaking about, a lot of people talk about thimerosal, which is a preservative that contains a type of mercury in it.  We know that some people are concerned about that, and we've produced vaccine that doesn't have the thimerosal in it.  There will be formulations, like the nasal spray, that doesn't have the, the thimerosal.  And some single syringes that don't have it.  And then there will be multidose vials that do have the thimerosal.  We've procured a whole lot of that, so we do think you're likely to be able to get that, if that's your preference.  As a scientist and a public health expert, I can say that, although there were some questions about thimerosal, there have been a lot of studies done, and there really isn't any scientific link between the thimerosal and problem, but we know that some people have concerns and we wanted to be able to address those.  So that's why both formulations will be available.”
Next came this question:
“Well, if it's [thimerosal], if it's not allowed for pregnant women and their unborn child, then why wouldn't it be a risk for the rest of the population?”
 Dr. Mark Shelly took on the issue and trashed ten years of supposed CDC statements about mercury.  Although he seemed flustered and his words were rambling, the message was clear:
“That rule was made by politicians and lawyers. (audience laughter)  It wasn’t made based on the best we could come out with.  And so to understand, that really is the key, that the politicians said it was that way and then we start to think that it has medical validity behind, but it really does not.
An adult, the amount of thimerosal in an adult, is is is an unreasonable concern.”
Salgo brought up the cautions against pregnant women eating tuna..
Shelly: “Well, I, I don't know the relative quantity of mercury in the tuna, or the risk factors in tuna.  I just know that, that we have made this a rule by extension, and basically, as we keep extending it out, become afraid of too many things.”
Salgo: “But if people are worried about mercury, and if there's a way to make a vaccine mercury free, what's the harm?”
Dr. Lisa Harris then added her opinion: “We, there's a lot of science.  Years and years and years of science that show that there's no link between the thimerosal preservative in vaccine and disease, specifically autism, if you want to throw it out there.  And we know that from just years and years and years and years of data.  We know that from looking at population studies in other countries outside of the United States where there is no autism.  So it's really, as Mark has said earlier, an unreasonable risk.  So we really need to, to educate people, that you're not ingesting a thermometer and putting yourself at risk.”

Salgo: “All right, I know that we are not going to settle the thimerosal…autism question right here on this stage at this moment.”
I was appalled listening to this exchange. The CDC is part of Dept of Health and Human Services.  On the website of HHS it states: (HERE) 

“Exposure to mercury occurs from breathing contaminated air, ingesting contaminated water and food, and having dental and medical treatments. Mercury, at high levels, may damage the brain, kidneys, and developing fetus.
“The nervous system is very sensitive to all forms of mercury. Methylmercury and metallic mercury vapors are more harmful than other forms, because more mercury in these forms reaches the brain. Exposure to high levels of metallic, inorganic, or organic mercury can permanently damage the brain, kidneys, and developing fetus. Effects on brain functioning may result in irritability, shyness, tremors, changes in vision or hearing, and memory problems."
While HHS conveniently ignored the research by Dr Thomas Burbacher from the U of Washington showing that the ethylmercury used in vaccines is actually more likely to  become trapped in the brain, the statement that is undeniable here is “The nervous system is very sensitive to all forms of mercury.” 

And in 1999, the U.S. Public Health Service, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the  American Academy of Family Physicians, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all asked pharmaceutical companies to remove mercury from vaccines.  Suddenly on Public Television, in the midst of a massive campaign that is particularly targeting pregnant women to get the flu vaccine, we are told that the USPHS, the AAP, the AAFP and the CDC were forced into that statement by “politicians and lawyers.”
Now maybe we needn’t take Shelly’s comments too seriously, after all, he’s not a government official.  However included in this panel was Anne Schuchat. director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. She’s been at the CDC since 1988 and must have first hand knowledge of the joint statement issued by the CDC and others in June of 1999.
During all of Shelly's comments, Schuchat said nothing.  When he claimed that the CDC really didn’t go along with the statement, but that they were somehow forced into it, Schuchat remained silent.  Not one person on that panel challenged Shelly. 
I went to the CDC website where (HERE) the 1999 agency statement was supposed to be and I found this: “The page you are looking for has been moved to (HERE).”  And when I went to the site I read, “Page Not Found.”
We are in the midst of a national vaccination effort where pregnant women are told by everyone in the medical establishment that they should get two flu vaccines which could potentially expose their unborn child to 50 mcg of mercury at one time.  It’s at least a little embarrassing to have the CDC’s public statement on reducing mercury exposure from ten years ago brought up. 
Now it seems that the 1999 joint statement was nothing but a fraud designed to pacify politicians and lawyers.
It must have been.  After all, Schuchat said nothing.
Anne Dachel is Media Editor of Age of Autsim



Pregnant Lady;
Not really sure that it is the mercury? Could be the mercury, or it could be that shooting something in your veins could more easily cause the immune system to set up an inflammatory reaction of the blood vessels in you.
My mother was an elementary school teacher and when I was little she had a flu shot. She was sick all that year. She missed more school that winter than any time in her carreer. Even way up into the next summer she would start running a fever and ache just like she had the flu. After that she begin to have trouble with her stomach.

I remember my father and mother going all the way to Louisville 3 hours away instead of Lexington, Ky only an hour away to see a doctor for her GI issues.

She left my older sister and I at our grandmothers. I remember my sister breaking down and crying when she left, and told my Grandma that Mom was going to find out she had cancer and die. Well nothing was ever found. My mother is 80 years old and there is not a week goes by that she does not have a bad bout with her GI tract. She takes hydrocodone (opiate) to calm it down, and she is thin. Just recently she is gone on the Atkins diet (watches the bad fats though) and is better.
What if she had been pregnant all those years ago? Would her immune reaction to the flu shot her a baby? Immunity is passed on from parents (father too - amazing isn't it) to a baby.

Pregnant Lady

I'm pregnant and debating this decision, since the only option I have is an H1N1 shot with preservatives. H1N1 is really getting established in my community.

Here's the 1999 statement / press release which wasn't hard to find:

The concern was "cumulative exposure to thimerosal-containing vaccines over the first 6 months of life."

So since there is little to no mercury in most childhood vaccines anymore, wouldn't it mean I could get the shot and just make sure when my baby is born she gets the preservative-free shots for the first 6 months of life? Does this make sense?

Susan Goewey

My son actually DID injest a thermometer...he also got all his vaccines. His regression into autism occurred AFTER his vaccines (in year 2000, so some of them, too contained mercury) I believe it is the COMBINATION Of the mercury poisioning, plus the antibiotics (freq. ear infection treatment), plus the agents in the vaccines THEMSELVES that assult the immune system. Would he have autism if he hadn't swallowed the thermometer? Maybe he would just have regressed into ADHD, thanks to the over zealous vaccine schedule. It's an outrage they do not look at the entire first 18 months of child's life and have some children recieve NONE and compare them to those w/ 27 agents...now, 2 add'l since they've now "recommended" both flu shots to tiny children...

Kevin D.

Maurine, Too True. I'm the same way.

Maurine Meleck

Anne, You do so well reporting on all the officals' inadequacies. It is sickening reading their responses and denials as always. We are used to hearing all this, but at the same time--we can never get used to the lies and betrayals.

michael framson

Thanks Anne.

Dr. Statu Quo Schuchat will join the endless stream of do-nothing directors of one the largest diseased agencies of government.

Kathy Blanco

This one goes without saying.
Humans are easily corrupted. (Money, Lazyness & Convenience.Respect and Adoration of the public for being a 'Doctor' usually evokes this). No need to stick your neck out when a 5yr medical degree gets your semi God status, a beautiful/rich partner, holidays in exotic places, children in private school etc.
All up-hill from there, why bother rock the apple cart? Anybody who sticks their neck out of their white coats, are chopped off for being ridiculous, too out there, and controversial. God help our world.

Autism Grandma

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

"So much of the history of the struggle between good and evil can be explained by Edmund Burke's observation. Time and again those who profess to be good seem to clearly outnumber those who are evil, yet those who are evil seem to prevail far too often. Seldom is it the numbers that determine the outcome, but whether those who claim to be good men are willing to stand up and fight for what they know to be right." [Wayne Greeson]


Thanks for writing about his Anne. I too saw this show and what struck me most about Shelley's comments, was that it seemed clear, to me, that he said thimerosal had been outlawed for pregnant women and that this was the context of his statement that "the rule had been made by politicians and lawyers."

I took his point to be that this supposed rule (which doesn't even exist) was not based on any science that thimerosal was harmful but was just put in place by politicians to answer to political pressure.

My shock was that Shuchat sat there and let the audience believe that pregnant women need not worry about thimerosal containing vaccine because doctors were not allowed to give it to them...which those of us in this community know is utterly false.

I am curious if others took Shelley's comment in the same way I did in that his point was that there is a rule (law) that says pregnant women are not to be given thimerosal containing vaccine.

Val from Ohio

we shall overcome -

I don't dispute for one moment that there are countries such as the ones you listed where autism is largely unknown outside of the urban (vaccinated) areas.

Actually, what I was saying was that Dr Harris was either lying through her teeth or she's an idiot.

Either she was referring to those same tired, oft-quoted studies from Denmark & Sweden which supposedly proved thimerosal to have "no link" to autism (and grossly exaggerating by saying "no autism") OR she was saying there are countries that have "no autism" and that population studies have been done there which prove no link to autism (a logical impossibility - how do you disprove a link to autism if there's "no autism"?)

This entire thimerosal discussion by this panel makes me want to "ingest a thermometer".

we shall overcome

Val from Ohio.

Countries with no autism (outside of developed urban areas anyway): Somalia, Chad, Zaire, Haiti, Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Bangla Desh ... Do you follow me? (I know you do) Remember the Somali immigrant parents in MN afraid of the new American disease they'd never seen. They had the best luck to be able to immigrate here ... only to get their kids screwed up for life by the mandatory vaccines requested by the INS. They probably wonder if it was worth coming here.


The scientific imprecision displayed by those so-called experts is appalling. Imagine a video survey at a toxicologists' convention regarding their level of eagerness about possibly being injected with ethylmercury. I think their responses would differ vastly from the glib reassurances of the public health epidemiologists.

Val from Ohio

Dr Lisa Harris said

"We know that [there's no link between the thimerosal preservative in vaccine and disease, specifically autism] from looking at population studies in other countries outside of the United States where there is no autism. "

I am dumbfounded.

Exactly which other countries use thimerosal in their vaccines and have "no autism"?

In fact, forget the thimerosal, where are these blessed countries with no autism?

Tanners Dad

Using the Internet Archive Way back machine you can see the 51 changes made to the document before it disapears Here http://bit.ly/3U5my7 here are the first couple of paragraphs...


•AAFP - The American Academy of Family Physicians,
•AAP - The American Academy of Pediatrics,
•ACIP - The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices,
•PHS - The United States Public Health Service

Approved on June 22, 2000



This statement has been prepared by the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, and the U.S. Public Health Service in response to 1) the progress being made in achieving the national goal declared in July 1999 to remove thimerosal from vaccines, and 2) the results of studies to better assess any potential relationship between exposure to mercury in thimerosal containing vaccines and health effects.


A Joint Statement issued by AAP and the PHS in July 1999 and agreed to by the AAFP later in 1999 established the goal of removing the vaccine preservative thimerosal as soon as possible from vaccines routinely recommended for infants. Thimerosal is a derivative of ethylmercury and has been used as an additive to biologics and vaccines since the 1930s because it is effective in killing bacteria and in preventing bacterial contamination, particularly in opened multi-dose containers. While there was no evidence of any harm caused by low levels of thimerosal in vaccines and the risk was only theoretical, this goal was established as a precautionary measure. There is public concern about the health effects of mercury exposure of any sort, and the elimination of mercury from vaccines was judged a feasible means of reducing an infant's total exposure to mercury in a world where other environmental sources of exposure are more difficult or impossible to eliminate (e.g. certain foods).


Dr. Lisa Harris: "We, there's a lot of science. Years and years and years of science that show that there's no link between the thimerosal preservative in vaccine and disease, specifically autism, if you want to throw it out there. And we know that from just years and years and years and years of data."
...sooooo that's 3 years of science and 4 years of data proving no link between mercury and autism....right???? ;oD


Revisionist history . . .

I was amazed to hear Schuchat say - during a live press conference last week (?) - that most people who get the flu will recover and won't even need medical intervention.

Why wasn't that a news headline?

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