NOTICE: Suspension of Washington State Thimerosal Limits for H1N1 Vaccine

Posted on Sep 25, 2009 in Autism

Dear Immunization Partners:
Mercury limits law temporarily suspended
Secretary of Health Mary Selecky has temporarily suspended Washington’s limit on the amount of mercury (thimerosal) in H1N1 (swine flu) vaccine allowed for pregnant women and children younger than three years old. The six-month suspension is effective September 23, 2009 through March 23, 2010 and applies only to H1N1 vaccines. It does not apply to seasonal flu vaccine.
As a precaution, Washington state law limits the amount of mercury that can be in vaccines for pregnant women and children under three. The secretary of health can suspend the law when there is a shortage of vaccine or during a disease outbreak – both criteria apply to the H1N1 vaccine. Some H1N1 vaccine will be mercury-free, but it may not be available at all times and there may be limited amounts. This could stop children younger than three and pregnant women who want the vaccine from getting it. H1N1 vaccination will be voluntary. Pregnant women and children under three are two of the priority groups to get H1N1 vaccine first because they are at high risk for serious complications if they’re infected with H1N1 (swine flu) virus.
Notification requirements
It is important to note that when the mercury limits are suspended, the law requires that certain groups be told they are getting a vaccine containing more mercury than is usually permitted. This notification requirement applies to pregnant or lactating women and parents or guardians of children under the age of 18 getting the vaccine. There is no single notification method required; the Department of Health has developed a sample notification form to help you with this. There is also a chart that you can use providing guidance on screening patients to determine who needs to be notified. The notification form and other information on the temporary suspension of the mercury limits for H1N1 vaccine are available online (
H1N1 Vaccine information
We expect H1N1 (swine flu) vaccine to be available in early October. Health care providers who pre-registered to get H1N1 vaccine were faxed provider agreements this week. The H1N1 Provider Agreements must be returned to your local health agency listed on the agreement. All providers participating in the Washington State Childhood Vaccine Program were automatically pre-registered and were faxed agreements. If a provider does not want to get vaccine, there is a place on the agreement to indicate they do not want to participate. A signed provider agreement is not a guarantee that a provider will receive this vaccine. Final decisions on which providers will receive vaccine will be made by each local health agency. Pre-registration information is available online (
Vaccine listserv
The State Department of Health Immunization Program CHILD Profile is starting a listserv to share important vaccine information directly with health care providers and community partners. You can sign up online ( Bardi, MPH
Manager, Immunization Program CHILD Profile
Washington State Department of Health
PO Box 47843
111 Israel Road SE
Olympia, WA 98504-7843
phone: 360.236.3568
FAX: 360.236.3590
Public Health: Always Working for a Safer and Healthier Washington