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Preliminary Approval for Ban on Vaccines Containing Mercury

The Missouri Senate gave first round approval to legislation designed to keep babies and toddlers from receiving vaccines that contain a mercury preservative. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

The sponsor of the bill, Springfield Republican Norma Champion says the version of the bill that has preliminary support from the senate is significantly weaker than early versions of the bill.

She says drug companies are concerned about an outright ban on vaccines containing the mercury preservative thimerosal.

That's why she says she changed her bill...Now it only prohibits giving vaccines with themerosal to children under the age of three and pregnant women.

Bill supporters say studies show that thimerosal can cause harm, especially to young children and babies...And some believe there could be a link between thimerosal and autism.

Though Champion says she'd prefer a ban, she understands why drug companies would oppose one.

Under Champion's bill, the ban on vaccines containing thimerosal would begin in April, 2007.

Even then, children under the age of three and pregnant women could be administered vaccines containing thimerosal if there's an outbreak or shortage of mercury-free vaccines.

During debate on the measure, Republican Senator John Loudon complained about these exceptions and the delayed implementation of the restrictions on thimerosal.

The senate adopted an amendment to the bill that Loudon sponsored...It prevents anyone from being compelled to receive an immunization that contains a mercury-based preservative.

Champion says she hopes those who would like to see a stronger bill don't undermine her efforts to get a compromise through the legislature.

The proposed ban on mercury containing vaccines for young children and pregnant women needs final senate approval before it can advance to the House.