State Lifts Mercury Ban on Child Flu Shots
Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Kim Belshé on Thursday agreed to temporarily waive the state's ban on a mercury-based preservative in flu shots for young children, the San Jose Mercury News reports. The six-week waiver will apply to vaccine for children younger than age three (Wronge, San Jose Mercury News, 11/3).
The state ban on thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative used in some vaccines, was passed in 2004 and took effect this year. However, as the flu season approaches, pediatricians said there is limited access to the thimerosal-free vaccine (California Healthline, 11/2).
Only one manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur, has produced a thimerosal-free version of the pediatric flu vaccine (Griffith, Sacramento Bee, 11/3).
California has received about half of the doses it ordered, according to HHSA spokesperson Lizelda Lopez (Anderson, Fresno Bee, 11/3).
The six-week waiver will allow Sanofi to ship about 500,000 doses of the vaccine (San Jose Mercury News, 11/3).
Production has been delayed because one of the viral strains in the child and adult flu vaccine grew poorly this year (California Healthline, 11/2).
The state ban -- authored by Assembly member Fran Pavley (D-Woodland Hills) -- was intended to reduce the risk of autism. Although large studies have not linked autism with exposure to thimerosal, many parents supported the law because of the possibility.
Exemptions to the law include public health emergencies, including epidemics or supply shortages (Sacramento Bee, 11/3).