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Friday, September 02, 2005

Ban Alleged Autism-Linked Preservative?

By Kitty Merrill
The Independent Newspaper

Up until the year 2000 vaccines given children for mumps/measles/and rubella as well as assorted flu and hepatitis vaccines contained preservatives which studies show may be harmful and even linked to autism.

Earlier this month the entire county legislature’s Environment, Planning And Agriculture committee signed on as sponsors of a resolution in support of an immediate federal or statewide ban of mercury-based vaccines and a requirement that any existing supply of manufactured vaccine be destroyed. Last week the legislature passed the measure, which also calls for an investigation into why preservatives, particularly thimerosal, which some studies link to the rise in autism, have not been removed sooner.

According to the legislation, sponsored by William Lindsay (D, Holbrook) there is disagreement in both the scientific and medical communities as to the safety of the preservative. Some experts have cited studies that suggest the use of mercury-based preservatives in vaccines have contributed to the nationwide increase in autism. The legislative findings in Lindsay’s bill state some studies have indicated that, since 1991 when the Centers for Disease Control and the Federal Drug Administration recommended three additional vaccines for infants, “the estimated number of cases of autism increased from the previous 1 in 2500 children to 1 in 166 children.”

Horrible Disease

“We’re faced with an epidemic of this horrible, horrible disease,” Lindsay said during a recent EPA committee meeting. Since 1991, “the amount of mercury we’re pumping into our kids is unbelievable.” Drug companies stopped using the preservative back in 2000, but have been unwilling to pull stock off the shelves, he reported. Manufacturers have begun to phase out the use of thimerosal in infant vaccines, but shots with the mercury based preservatives are still given to older kids and exported to other countries.

“The continued dispute about the safety of mercury-based vaccines and the continuing manufacture and use of such vaccines have led to corruption, cover-ups, and political deal making,” the bill’s text contends. Iowa and California have banned the drugs and 32 other states are considering similar bans. The county lacks banning authority.
Rather, the bill urges state and federal lawmakers to move forward. EPA chair Paul Tonna (R, West Hills) wondered whether the county could ban their use in its own Health Department’s immunization programs. Commissioner Dr. Brian Harper reminded that the studies have not conclusively linked thimerosal to autism. Nevertheless, it has not been used for children in Suffolk, he said.

It is a component of adult flu vaccines, however. “If we couldn’t use it, we wouldn’t be able to vaccinate anybody for flu,” he said. Legislator Allen Binder (R, Huntington) pointed out that Suffolk suffered a shortage of flu shots last season. If the chemical, which increases a vaccine’s shelf life, is banned, a worse shortage could result. From a public health standpoint, “That’s our concern,” Harper said.

Posted by Becca

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