April 22, 2006
“Excuse me, you may not have heard of me but I’m kind of a big deal.” I’m kidding of course, but that’s close to the typical attitude displayed by representatives of the large research hospitals and associations as they show up in committee to fight a common sense bill to ban mercury from childhood vaccines.
The Safe Vaccines for Tennessee’s Children Act states that no vaccine given to a child 8 and under, or to a pregnant woman, may contain mercury – the second most poisonous element on the planet. Used for decades as a preservative in vaccine, it is commonly known that mercury should never be consumed, breathed, applied to the skin or injected into the human body.
Although armed with impressive credentials, their arguments against the bill are weak. They contend:
First, if the Tennessee Legislature passes this bill, parents won’t have a choice. A choice to inject their child with mercury? What parent would make that choice?
Second, if we pass this bill, parents will be afraid to vaccinate their children. I don’t know if they’ve read the morning paper but parents are already very concerned. Many choose not to vaccinate due to the uncertainty over mercury. This bill will reassure parents and provide public confidence that Tennessee vaccines ARE mercury free or trace only.
Third, if we pass this bill, we risk vaccine shortages. They make this statement even though the vaccine manufacturers are voluntarily removing the mercury compound from vaccines for children. Most vaccines are now considered mercury free or trace only.
This bill recognizes that the industry’s mercury removal is only voluntary. After passage, if the industry decides to produce vaccine with mercury they can’t send any to Tennessee. The federal government should have mandated this two decades ago. With large states like California and six others passing similar legislation this bill provides incentive to the industry to manufacture only mercury-free vaccine to sell nationally.
However, this bill is not unrealistic, if there is ever a TRUE shortage, perhaps due to a pandemic, and for some reason vaccine must be used that contains mercury, the commissioner of health can wave the restriction and parents will have informed consent. They will be told that the vaccine contains mercury, that mercury is a neurotoxin, and that children and the fetus of pregnant women are especially vulnerable to its dangers.
With this bill the legislature will assure the citizens of Tennessee that vaccines can be important to overall health, especially for the well-being of children. We support children and pregnant women being given the safest vaccines possible. And, it is our desire to reinforce the need for “safe vaccines.”
For more information on the Safe Vaccines for Tennessee's Children Act please go to https://owa.legislature.state.tn.us/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.legislature.state.tn.us/. Click on legislation. Type in HB956.