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Lawmakers approve phase out of mercury in vaccines

By RANDALL CHASE, Associated Press Writer

DOVER, Del. - After a contentious House debate, Delaware lawmakers early Friday passed a bill phasing out the use of vaccines containing mercury.

Effective Jan. 1, the bill would prohibit medical providers in Delaware from administering any vaccine, except flu vaccine, containing more than a trace amount of mercury, as defined by the federal government, to pregnant women and children under eight years old.

The prohibition would be extended to the flu vaccine effective Jan. 1, 2007, and the bill would prohibit vaccines containing any mercury for pregnant women and young children beginning in 2008, except during declared epidemics or states of emergency.

The bill, introduced amid a nationwide debate over whether the use of Thimerosal and other mercury-containing preservatives in vaccines may be linked to childhood autism, represented a compromise between autism advocates the medical community.

Under the original bill introduced by Rep. Pam Maier, R-Newark, no amount of mercury would have been allowed in vaccines for pregnant women and children starting Jan. 1, and insurers would have been prohibited from offering reimbursement for such vaccines. Doctors who violated the ban would have been responsible for costs of the immunizations and would have faced fines of up to $1,000.

"I think we need to get rid of this mercury in vaccines, and the sooner the better," said Rep. Richard Cathcart, R-Middletown, who sponsored an unsuccessful amendment to speed up the phase out of trace amounts of mercury.

Opponents of the amendment expressed concern that the proposed regulations could lead to vaccine shortages, an argument that Cathcart and other lawmakers rejected during a sometimes heated debate in the House.

"This is all about kids, it's not about doctor liability and shortage of vaccines," said Cathcart, who rattled off a list of other states and countries that have passed similar legislation.

The bill passed the House unanimously, even though lawmakers admitted that the jury was still out on whether mercury in vaccines is linked to autism.

"I believe it's a step forward, and hopefully we'll learn more," said House Speaker Terry Spence, R-Wilmington.

Within minutes of passing the House, the bill sailed through the state Senate, with no debate.

"I know it's late, but the matter is urgent," said Senate sponsor Karen Peterson, D-Wilmington.

Lujene G. Clark
President & Co-Founder


  • NoMercury is a philanthropic based venture whose mission is to educate policy makers, physicians and the public regarding the dangers associated with the use of Thimerosal, a mercury containing preservative used in vaccines intended for pregnant women, infants, children and senior citizens.
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  • We are not “anti-vaccine” rather we advocate for safer vaccines.