Film Seeks to Compel Parents to Ask Hard Questions about Mercury and Vaccinations

There are few issues more polarizing these days than vaccines. Merely saying the word forces us to claim a side, often vehemently. Which is why it’s interesting that the filmmakers of Trace Amounts: Austism, Mercury and the Hidden Truth say, “Many people think we are anti-vaccinations. But once they see the film, they realize we are not.” A film that attempts to shine light on the dangers inherent in one component of vaccines without taking a stand against vaccines, Trace Amounts is earnest and geeky at the same time.

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The film’s director, Eric Gladen, came to the issue through a personal experience. At the age of 29, he cut himself on a rusty nail and received a tetanus shot in an emergency room. Within a short time, he was seriously ill. He blames the illness on mercury poisoning from the thimerosal contained in the tetanus injection. Quitting his job as an engineer, he embarked on a crusade to get thimerosal removed from all vaccinations and injections. If the comprehensive research that followed had resulted in a film called Trace Amounts: Mercury’s Dangers, you likely wouldn’t be reading this blog. But Gladen’s major theory in the film is that the thimerosal contained in vaccines is a major contributor to the “epidemic” of autism in children.

Shiloh Levine, Gladen’s co-director, acknowledges that most childhood vaccines have not contained thimerosal since the early 2000s, but cautions, “It is still contained in flu shots, but most parents don’t know to ask about it. We want to help them make decisions based on an educated choice, especially since the CDC is not revealing everything they know.” The film is chock full of anti-mercury arguments: scientists and researchers give lots of opinions and statistics that certainly seem to show a strong connection between mercury and autism. And, given that it is possible to request flu vaccines that don’t contain thimerosal, parents might want to err on the side of caution. Of course there is a price for that: thimerosal-free flu shots cost an additional $3 dollars or more.

Gladen admits that for many, the film is initially a lightning rod in the vaccine debate. “Some people come to a screening and are not there with an open mind,” he says. “But after seeing it, they are just mad. It is clear that the CDC and others have severe financial stakes in not giving all the information they have. It is stunning to watch the audience reaction – they leave arguing with the CDC’s position, not ours.”

While Gladen insists he is not anti-vaccinations, he also understands those who take that position. “Anti-vaxxers are not crazy,” he says. “We need to turn the vaccine system upside down and correct the system. Injecting children with mercury is one of the bigger crimes against humanity.” He believes a third party should provide oversight to our nation’s vaccine program, ensuring its safety and accountability by the large pharma manufacturers.

Trace Amounts appears to be gaining followers, driven mostly by an endorsement from Robert F. Kennedy Jr and a grassroots community that is hosting screenings of the film. Gladen and Levine were recently in Washington DC to lobby members of Congress for legislation removing mercury from all medications. While they admit that it is an uphill labor, Levine quickly adds, “This is a labor of love. We live and breathe and eat Trace Amounts.”

Whatever side of the vaccination debate parents are on, we all share the common goal of ensuring our children’s well-being. Spending 90 minutes watching Trace Amounts wouldn’t do any of us any harm and might compel you to ask more questions the next time your child is scheduled to receive a shot.

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