A second thimerosal-free hepatitis B vaccine has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The reformulated Engerix-B manufactured by SmithKline Beecham is available in 10 mcg/0.5 ml doses for pediatric and adolescent use. The FDA approved Recombivax HB Pediatric, manufactured by the Merck Vaccine Division, last August.

The availability of two thimerosal-free hepatitis B vaccines means there should be sufficient quantities for children of all ages.

The new Engerix-B contains only trace amounts of thimerosal (<1 mcg), which “have no clinically relevant effects making it equivalent to a thimerosal-free product,” according to Neal Halsey, M.D., FAAP, director of the Institute for Vaccine Safety and former chair of the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases.

Dr. Halsey urged parents to maintain routine immunization schedules to protect children from hepatitis B, a serious liver disease that affects more than 100,000 people in the United States every year. The use of...

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