No more mercury in vaccines? Not exactly...

Q: I've heard that there isn't any more mercury in vaccines. Is that true? I'm supposed to be getting a shingles vaccine soon.

G.R.: First off, you're right to be concerned about mercury exposure. Heavy metals like mercury and lead can build up in our bodies over time and affect everything from our muscles to our neurological systems.

Thimerosal is a controversial, mercury-based preservative that has been used in vaccines for decades. And most adults have been exposed to thimerosal-containing vaccines over the course of their lifetimes.

There has been some misinformation out there claiming that the government has removed thimerosal from all vaccines over the past several years.

But just like most things we hear about our government, it's not entirely true.

There was a major push by the Feds to get manufacturers to replace thimerosal in childhood vaccines in particular. But the fact is, thimerosal is still regularly used in flu shots, the meningitis vaccine, and some others.

The shingles vaccine you asked about does not contain thimerosal -- although, it does contain some other harmful ingredients, like MSG (yes, the same ingredient you try to avoid in your Chinese food).

Vaccination is a personal choice, and you deserve to have all the available facts about each shot before you agree to it. For a full list of vaccines that still have thimerosal, you can check out this report from the CDC (you'll have to scroll down a bit).

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