That's because Aventis Pasteur Inc., the only maker of flu vaccines for infants 6 months through 23 months old, is marketing them in both single-dose thimerosal-free and multi-dose thimerosal-laced containers.
According to some estimates, making thimerosal-free vaccine results in the loss of as much as one-third of the vaccine volume, mainly because of spillage from filling single-dose containers. And while vaccine makers haven't publicly warned of supply problems, the academies of pediatrics and family physicians had raised the issue of shortages.
Eliminating thimerosal "would save everybody a big headache" by encouraging parents to have their children vaccinated, said Dr. Dean Blumberg, an associate professor of pediatrics at UC Davis, and chairman of the academy of pediatrics' committee on infectious disease in California.
But if there is not enough thimerosal-free vaccine, "California's children are going to be left out in the cold and unprotected from a potentially deadly disease," Blumberg said.