JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Senators gave preliminary approval Monday to a bill banning mercury in immunizations given to young children and pregnant women.
Some parents and advocates believe that mercury is linked to a nationwide rise in autism, hyperactivity and attention deficit disorder.
Sponsoring Sen. Norma Champion said passing the legislation will protect Missouri's young children. A second Senate vote is needed to send the bill to the House.
"For the very small children, since they weigh so little, we think the mercury-free [immunizations] should be used," said Champion, R-Springfield.
Under the bill, vaccines containing more than a trace amount of mercury could not be administered to children under age 3 and pregnant women. It would also require insurance companies to cover mercury-free vaccines at the same rate as those that contain mercury.
Champion said she modeled the bill after legislation recently passed in California, because pharmaceutical companies are already working to comply with those new requirements.
The measure does allow an exemption of the mercury-free requirement if the governor and the director of the state Department of Health and Senior Services determine it is needed to prevent an epidemic or outbreak.
An initial version of the bill would have required mercury-free immunizations for all children under age 14, but Champion said she could not get enough support to pass the bill.
Immunization bill is HB74
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