Senate Committee To Vote on Bill To Ban Mercury in Vaccines
The Senate Health and Human Services Committee Wednesday is scheduled to hold a hearing and vote on a bill (AB 2943) that would ban mercury from vaccines administered to pregnant women and children younger than age three, the Los Angeles Times reports. Under the bill, sponsored by Assembly member Fran Pavley (D-Woodland Hills), vaccines containing "more than trace amounts of thimerosal," a preservative containing mercury, could no longer be administered to pregnant women and infants, the Times reports. Studies investigating whether the vaccinations may be linked to a "sharp rise in reported cases of autism and other neurological disorders" have had conflicting results, according to the Times. Although thimerosal is recognized as the most effective preservative available, the U.S. Public Health Service and the American Academy of Pediatrics in 1999 began advocating its elimination from vaccines because some infants were being exposed to mercury at levels exceeding Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.
Making vaccines without thimerosal could result in as much as a 33% loss of the current vaccine volume, mainly because omitting the preservative would require vaccines to be sealed in single-dose containers that increase loss through spillage. As a result, the state chapters of AAP and the American Academy of Family Physicians have opposed the bill, which the Assembly last month voted 49-22 to approve. On Tuesday, AAP changed its position to a neutral stance after Pavley agreed to amend the bill to include a six-month implementation delay from January 2006 to July 2006 and a provision allowing for a temporary waiver of the ban during a public health emergency. AAFP also announced Tuesday that it is reassessing its position. The Department of Finance opposes the bill because it would increase the state's vaccine costs by about $40,000 annually (Levin, Los Angeles Times, 6/23).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.