Senate And Assembly Pass Skelos' Legislation To Ban Mercury In Vaccines

Dean G. Skelos

June 24, 2005

The New York Senate and Assembly have each passed legislation (S.2707-C), sponsored by Senator Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Center) that would prohibit the administration of any vaccine containing more than a trace amount of mercury to children under the age of three or pregnant women.

Thimerosal, which contains a form of mercury, has been used in vaccines for years as a preservative to help prevent life-threatening bacterial contamination. However, vaccine manufacturing technology has advanced in recent years, and it is no longer necessary to add preservatives containing mercury to vaccines.

"Childhood vaccinations have had a significant and measurable public health benefit," said Senator Skelos. "But with scientific uncertainty regarding the safety of the mercury-based preservative thimerosal to children, readily available alternatives and a consensus between the major federal health agencies that thimerosal use should be reduced or eliminated, we must err on the side of caution and end its use in New York State. When signed by the Governor, this new law will bring our vaccines into the 21st Century and ensure the health and well-being of our children."

Two states, California and Iowa, have enacted legislation banning the use of more than a trace amount of thimerosal in vaccines. Similar legislation is pending in the states of Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah and Washington.

The bill must now be signed into law by the Governor.