April 25, 2006
HB 956 / SB 1616
Amends TCA Title 56 and Title 68.
· Prohibits vaccinations administered to children under eight years of age and pregnant women from containing mercury-based preservatives.
· Allows commissioner of health an exemption in the case of a documented outbreak that requires use of vaccines containing mercury-based preservatives.
· Requires insurers who cover vaccinations to charge the same percentage fee for vaccines that do not contain mercury-based preservatives as for those that do.
Hargett, Lynn, Stanley, Maggart, Gresham, McCormick, Brown, Niceley, Fowlkes, Brooks (Knox), Ferguson, Campfield, Hill, Buck, Johnson R, West, Towns.
Black, Finney, Beavers, Williams, Burks, Miller, Bryson, Burchett, Chism, Cohen, Cooper, Crowe, Crutchfield, Ford, Fowler, Woodson, Harper, Haynes, Henry, Herron, Jackson, Ketron, Kilby, Kurita, Kyle, McLeary, McNally, Norris, Person, Curtis, Ramsey, Southerland, Tracy, Wilder.)
HB 956 was moved to study committee last spring. The study committee met twice this fall for a total of three days to hear testimony from all interested parties.
Speaking on behalf of the bill:
Dr. Boyd Haley, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Kentucky.
Dr. David Adams, Internal Medicine practicing in Chattanooga, TN.
Speaking in opposition to the bill:
A doctor from Vanderbilt University
The Tennessee Department of Health.
Pro HB 956
What did we learn in study committee?
Vaccines can be important to overall health, especially for the well-being of children.
Tennessee should reinforce the need for “safe vaccines.”
Children and pregnant women should be given the safest vaccines possible.
Thimerosal is a poison – it is 49.6% mercury - it has a skull and crossbones on the bottle.
The industry is voluntarily removing thimerosal from vaccines but there is no federal law to prohibit the use. It may be added without notice.
Mercury is a proven highly toxic substance. It is the second most poisonous element on the planet and should never be consumed or injected into the human body.
Mercury effects are cumulative and can cause mercury poisoning and neurodevelopmental damage.
Children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable to its dangers.
There is a plethora of peer-reviewed scientific studies published over the last 50 years that show that mercury, and specifically thimerosal, is:
· Genotoxic (damages DNA)
· Nephrotixic (damages kidneys)
· Immunotoxic (damages the immune system)
· Cytotoxic (causes cell death)
· Cardio toxic (damages the heart)
· Thyrotoxic (damages the thyroid)
· Neurotoxic (damages the neurological system).
In fact, as early as July 1999, the US Public Health Service and the American Academy of Pediatrics released a joint policy statement regarding Thimerosal declaring:
"thimerosal containing vaccines should be removed as soon as possible."
Further, in October of 200l, the Institute of Medicine - Immunization Safety Review Committee concluded the link between thimerosal containing vaccines and neurodevelopmental disorders is "biologically plausible" and stated:
"The committee recommends the use of the thimerosal-free DTaP, Hib, hepatitis B vaccines in the United States, despite the fact that there might be remaining supplies of thimerosal-containing vaccine available."
They went even further by stating:
"The committee recommends that full consideration be given by appropriate professional societies and government agencies to removing thimerosal from vaccines administered to infants, children, or pregnant women in the United States."
And that is what this bill is attempting to do.
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) located in Atlanta, Georgia, one of the most respected authorities on toxic substances in the world, (they operate under the auspices of the Centers for Disease Control), their web page called ToxFAQs on mercury states in part:
"The nervous system is very sensitive to all forms of mercury."
" ... mercury can permanently damage the brain, kidneys, and developing fetus."
"Effects on brain functioning may result in irritability, shyness, tremors, changes in vision or hearing, and memory problems."
"Very young children are more sensitive to mercury than adults."
"Mercury in the mother's body passes to the fetus and may accumulate there."
"Mercury's harmful effects that may be passed from the mother to the fetus include brain damage, mental retardation, incoordination, blindness, seizures, and inability to speak."
"Children poisoned by mercury may develop problems of their nervous and digestive systems, and kidney damage."
"Properly dispose of older medicines that contain mercury.""Keep all mercury-containing medicines away from children."
Q. Is the ethyl mercury in thimerosal a safer form of mercury?
As to whether the ethyl mercury in thimerosal is a safe form of mercury, there are many peer-reviewed studies that address Thimerosal, also known as merthiolate, specifically. Here are just a few highlights:
The comparative toxicology of ethyl and methyl mercury by Magos, Brown, Sparrow, Bailey, et al published in the Archives of Toxicology (1985) 57: 260-267., has stated:
"There was little difference in the neurotoxicities of methylmercury and ethylmercury when effects on the dorsal root ganglia or coordination disorders were compared."
"The neurological signs and symptoms of methyl- and ethyl mercury intoxication are identical..."
David S. Baskin, M.D., and his colleagues at Baylor College of Medicine, Department of Neurosurgery published their findings regarding the Toxicity of Thimerosal in Toxicological Sciences, 2003 74 : 361-368. They concluded:
"We found that thimerosal in micromolar concentrations rapidly decreased cellular viability."
In the year 2000, FDA scientist William Slikker states in the journal Neurotoxicolcogy:
“Thimerosal crosses the blood-brain and placental barriers and results in appreciable mercury content in tissues including brain.”
Dr. Slikker was by no means the first to make such an assessment about ethyl mercury.
Perhaps the most recognized reference book found in many emergency rooms and poison control centers is The Clinical Toxicology of Commercial Products by Gosselin, Smith and Hodge:
“...ethyl mercury derivatives are virulent neurotoxins on either acute or chronic exposure." "They are especially hazardous because of their volatility, their ability to penetrate epithelial & blood-brain barriers & their persistence in vivo."
In April 1986, Dr. Kravchenko, et al published Use of a diploid cell line for detecting the toxic components in medical immunobiological preparations attesting to the acute toxicity of Thimerosal (merthiolate).
"Merthiolate had the strongest irreversible lethal effect"
In March 1983, Kravchenko, et al again published about the toxic effects of Thimerosal in a Russian Epidemiology journal. This one is titled The detection of toxic properties in medical biological preparations by the degree of cell damage and states:
“…thimerosal….has been found not only to render its primary toxic effect, but also capable of changing the properties of cells.
This fact suggests that the use of thimerosal for the preservation of medical biological preparations, especially those intended for children, is inadmissible.”
In a 1977 study titled Organ mercury levels in infants with omphaloceles treated with organic mercurial antiseptic by Drs. Fagan, Pritchard, Clarkson and Greenwood refers to 10 deaths among 13 infants in which thimerosal was used as a topical treatment for umbilical hernias and states that:
"The results showed that thiomersal can induce blood and organ levels of organic mercury which are well in excess of the minimum toxic level in adults and fetuses."
Q. What has the government found?
Seven states have banned thimerosal:
In February 2004, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment in a response to Bayer Corp's request not to list mercury and mercury compounds as chemicals known to cause reproductive toxicity stated firly that thimerosal was both a reproductive and developmental toxin.
“…there is clear and substantial evidence that both PMA and thimerosal cause reproductive toxicity, as discussed above in section IV A of this response."
A report to the United States Congress recorded in the Congressional Record, on May 20, 2003 was quite explicit on the dangers of mercury. Congressman Dan Burton’s committee (R - Indiana) was charged with examining mercury in medicines.
The report states in part:
“The FDA acted too slowly to remove ethylmercury from over-the-couner products like topical ointments and skin creams. Although an advisory committee determined that ethylmercury was unsafe in these products in 1980, a rule requiring its removal was not finalized until 1998.”
“The FDA and the CDC failed in their duty to be vigilant as new vaccines containing thimerosal were approved and added to the immunization schedule. When the Hepatitis B and Haemophilus Influenzae Type b vaccines were added to the recommended schedule of childhood immunizations, the cumulative amount of ethylmercury to which children were exposed nearly tripled.
“The amount of ethylmercury to which children were exposed through vaccines prior to the 1999 announcement exceeded two safety thresholds established by the Federal government for a closely related substance— methylmercury. While the Federal Government has established no safety threshold for ethylmercury, experts agree that the methylmercury guidelines are a good substitute. Federal health officials have conceded that the amount of thimerosal in vaccines exceeded the EPA threshold of 0.1 micrograms per kilogram of bodyweight. In fact, the amount of mercury in one dose of DTaP or Hepatitis B vaccines (25 micrograms each) exceeded this threshold many times over. Federal health officials have not conceded that this amount of thimerosal in vaccines exceeded the FDA’s more relaxed threshold of 0.4 micrograms per kilogram of body weight. In most cases, however, it clearly did.”
“The CDC’s failure to state a preference for thimerosal-free vaccines in 2000 and again in 2001 was an abdication of their responsibility. As a result, many children received vaccines containing thimerosal when thimerosal- free alternatives were available.”
“The Influenza vaccine appears to be the sole remaining vaccine given to children in the United States on a regular basis that contains thimerosal. Two formulations recommended for children six months of age or older continue to contain trace amounts of thimerosal. Thimerosal should be removed from these vaccines. No amount of mercury is appropriate in any childhood vaccine.”
You may have noted that I have not mentioned autism. However, Rep. Dan Burton’s report does mention studies that the AAP and others usually use to discredit linkages between thimerosal and autism. I will note that the symptoms of mercury poisoning and autism match symptom for symptom. The report states in part:
“To date, studies conducted or funded by the CDC that purportedly dispute any correlation between autism and vaccine injury have been of poor design, under-powered, and fatally flawed. The CDC’s rush to support and promote such research is reflective of a philosophical conflict in looking fairly at emerging theories and clinical data related to adverse reactions from vaccinations.”
“Autism in the United States has grown at epidemic proportions during the last decade. By some estimates the number of autistic children in the United States is growing between 10 and 17 percent per year. The medical community has been unable to determine the underlying cause(s) of this explosive growth.”
“At the same time that the incidence of autism was growing, the number of childhood vaccines containing thimerosal was growing, increasing the amount of ethylmercury to which infants were exposed threefold.”
The Industry is changing
Manufacturers are voluntarily removing or have removed thimerosal from vaccine
No federal law protecting us
They can add it again at any time without notice
Do they want to keep using it?
In December, a Nashville news station interviewed me and showed me some tape from an interview with a doctor from Vanderbilt. The doctor said that not only is thimerosal perfectly safe, we need to continue to use it.
There is thimerosal free flu vaccine available
We should ensure that this vaccine is given to our children and pregnant women first
We can ensure availability
If supplies run short the Commissioner of Health can wave the restrictions
We can ensure public confidence by passing this bill
Parents won’t have to wonder if vaccine contains a substance that is toxic and could harm their child
The amendment for the bill states:
· No vaccine on the childhood immunization schedule may contain thimerosal except in trace amounts.
· Flu vaccine given to children and women who are known to be pregnant may not contain thimerosal except in trace amounts.
· No vaccine given to women who are known to be pregnant may contain thimerosal except that the woman waves her right to receive mercury-free vaccine and is informed of the potential danger to her fetus.
· In case of a health emergency, the commissioner of Health may wave the standard.
· If the standard is waved, and vaccine containing thimerosal is used, parents are to be informed that the vaccine contains mercury, a toxic substance, and there is a risk of mercury toxicity associated with exposure to mercury.
However, because this bill will not be enacted until mid 2007 and a vote today will not affect the implementation of this bill, I am withdrawing this bill from committee. I can understand how very difficult a decision is for my colleagues. I want to thank my colleagues who worked so hard on the study committee. I owe you my respect and gratitude.
I have an abundance of information available. Please see my assistant after the committee meeting.