(HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif.) -- If you haven't gotten your flu shot yet, the vaccine safety organization SafeMinds has a message for you.
A new video campaign, running with other previews in movie theaters around nine cities nationwide beginning the day after Thanksgiving, will urge viewers -- especially pregnant mothers and children -- to "demand" your doctor give you a mercury-free flu vaccine this year.
The video features Lyn Redwood, executive director of SafeMinds, who warns that many flu vaccines contain mercury, suggested by the organization to be a potential toxin linked to neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism.
"Don't take the risk. Demand mercury-free flu shots," Redwood says in the video.
The public service announcement is one of the largest campaigns launched by SafeMinds yet. The group estimates it will be viewed by more than half a million moviegoers. But the message has many experts bracing for another turn on the vaccine-safety merry-go-round.
"I don't look at it as a PSA but as a PDA -- a public disservice announcement," said Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Multi-dose vials of flu vaccines, which contain about ten flu shots in one vial, are the most common type of vaccine manufactured for public use. Thimerosal, a compound that contains mercury, is used to preserve the vaccine. However, vials that contain only a single dose of the flu shot, along with the nasal spray vaccine, are manufactured without thimerosal. Those, according to SafeMinds, are the type of vaccines consumers should demand.
But many manufacturers don't make enough, and many local pharmacies and doctors' offices may not carry single-dose vaccines. Some experts say they fear that consumers who will have to request and wait for the special order if providers will place them, may choose not to get vaccinated at all.
But according to SafeMinds executive director Redwood, the more people ask for thimerosal-free vaccines, the more likely doctors will keep them in stock.
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