Mercury in Vaccines
Because there is a great deal of concern regarding vaccine safety, I have worked on three bills to address these concerns.
It is widely known that mercury is a neurotoxin that is harmful to the developing central nervous systems of fetuses and infants. So, it’s clear: It’s just not a good idea to inject mercury into infants or pregnant women. The Mercury-Free Vaccines Act of 2007 protects the fetus and infants from exposure to one of the most dangerous substances on earth – mercury - at that point in development where exposures to mercury could cause the most harm to their neurodevelopment. The bill prohibits mercury containing vaccines from being given to infants and young children. In the 1990s most childhood vaccines contained mercury – DTP, Hep B - Now only the flu vaccine contains mercury. This bill prohibits mercury containing vaccines from being administered to children under the age of 3, and we will phase out mercury for all other vaccines.
The country’s vaccine program has largely had a very positive impact on public health by preventing and reducing the outbreak of vaccine-preventable diseases. Because of its many successes, the public has a great deal of trust in the government and its ability to preserve the safety of vaccines. This trust is critical to continuing progress in this area as we develop new vaccines and require new vaccines of the public. Without serious vaccine safety measures in place, we will find ourselves in a very precarious position. The current system for monitoring vaccine safety is inadequate and there is not enough coordination and not enough effort to investigate the biological mechanisms underlying vaccine-related adverse events. The Vaccine Safety and Public Confidence Assurance Act of 2007 works to increase public confidence in vaccines by:
Creating a new, independent agency of vaccine safety that reports directly to the Secretary of Health and Human Services;
Establishing a scientific review panel, similar to NIH’s study sections, to evaluate the scientific merits of investigator initiated research;
Establishing a balanced 18 Member Advisory Committee to formulate a safety research agenda and to prioritize research approved by the scientific study group.
In the past, those who claim the preservative thimerosal has no effect on children have claimed a comprehensive study comparing vaccinated and unvaccinated populations could not be done in the United States because there was not a big enough unvaccinated population to which we could compare the general vaccinated population. However, a recent news series about the autism epidemic that identified a number of populations suitable for study, including the Amish, children whose parents don’t vaccinate for religious reasons, patients of Homefirst, an alternative medical practice in Chicago that does not vaccinate and other unvaccinated communities. In order to lay to rest the controversy, I have introduced the Comprehensive Comparative Study of Vaccinated and Unvaccinated Population Act of 2007 which requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to conduct a study of unvaccinated populations.
06/02/09 - H.R. 2617, Mercury Free Vaccines Act of 2009