SACRAMENTO — A bill to ban mercury from early childhood vaccines by 2006 moved a step closer to becoming law Wednesday, when it was endorsed on a 10-2 vote by the state Senate Committee on Health and Human Services.
The bill by Assemblywoman Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), which the Assembly approved last month, would eliminate thimerosal beyond trace levels from vaccines administered to expectant mothers and children younger than 3 years old. The compound, which is about half ethyl mercury, is used to prevent the growth of bacteria in certain vaccines.
The bill had been endorsed by the Sierra Club and California Nurses Assn. Two doctors groups -- the California chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians -- had previously withdrawn their opposition after Pavley agreed to an amendment that would allow a temporary waiver of the ban in case of a public health emergency.
The bill and similar measures pending in several other states and Congress were inspired by a change in a policy of eliminating the mercury preservative from all routine childhood immunizations.