Skip to main content


Volume 410: debated on Friday 19 September 2003

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the levels of health risk associated with the use of (a) mercury free and (b) mercury based preservatives in vaccines for children. [122715]

Admission, from Accident and Emergency Departments, Southend Hospital NHS Trust, 2001–02 to 2003–04
Number of patients admitted throughPatients placed in bed in a ward within 2 hours of a decision to admitPatients placed in bed in a ward within 2 to 4 hours of a decision to admitPatients not placed in bed in a ward within 4 hours of a decision to admit
QtrNamemajor A&ENumber%Number%Number%
2003–041Southend Hospital NHS Trust3,67489124.32,78375.700.0
2002–034Southend Health Care NHS Trust3,5491,18933.52,35766.430.1
2002–033Southend Health Care NHS Trust2,78438013.62,39586.090.3
2002–032Southend Health Care NHS Trust2,60957722.12,03177.810.0
2002–031Southend Health Care NHS Trust2,4311,38657.01,04442.910.0
2001–024Southend Health Care NHS Trust2,44198440.31,45459.630.1
2001–023Southend Health Care NHS Trust2,561122147.71,33452.160.2
2001–022Southend Health Care NHS Trust2,428106844.01.35055.6100.4
2001–021Southend Health Care NHS Trust4,1924,18699.900.060.1


Department of Health dataset QMAE/AMGN

[holding answer 30 June 2003]: The vaccines used in the childhood immunisation programme have been thoroughly assessed for safety prior to being licensed. As with all medicinal products, vaccine safety is continually monitored by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the independent expert advisory Committee on Safety of Medicines (CSM).No vaccine or medicinal product is without potential side effects and these are clearly listed in the product information that is available to health professionals and patients. The CSM has reviewed the safety of vaccines containing the preservative thiomersal (which contains ethyl mercury) on a number of occasions. In 2001, the CSM conducted a major review of the available evidence and has considered new data as it has come to light in 2003. A statement was placed on the MHRA website at in February 2003, summarising the latest evidence on this issue.The advice of the CSM remains that, with the exception of possible hypersensitivity reactions (that typically include skin rashes or local swelling at the site of injection), there is no evidence of harm from thiomersal contained in vaccines and that the benefits of immunisation with thiomersal-containing vaccines outweigh any potential risks of vaccination. This view concurs with that of the World Health Organisation.