House Health Committee Chair Blocks Bill to Ensure Mercury-free Vaccines in Minnesota


    A bill to reduce Minnesotans’ exposure to mercury from vaccines is being blocked by Rep. Paul Thissen (D-Minneapolis), chair of the House Health and Human Services Committee.

    The bill, HF1917 and SF1780, is sponsored by Rep. Shelley Madore (DFL-Apple Valley) and Sen. Patricia Torres Ray (DFL-Minneapolis). It would establish a preference for mercury-free vaccines and inform patients when a vaccine contains mercury.

    Not only is Rep. Thissen refusing to hear the mercury-free vaccine bill, he also refuses to allow the bill to be referred to other committees. The bill is endorsed by the Minnesota Nurses Association, ARC Minnesota, Sierra Club, Clean Water Action and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.

    Thimerosal, which is 49.6 percent ethylmercury, was developed in 1929 to reduce bacterial and fungal contamination in some vaccines and pharmaceuticals.

    "People keep hearing that Thimerosal is out of vaccines, and that simply is not true," said Jerri Johnson of the Minnesota Natural Health Coalition. "But providers now have choices – they can order mercury-free vaccines, or the ones with mercury in them. We want to make sure that not a single Minnesotan will be injected with mercury in a vaccine when a mercury-free vaccine is available."

    The most recent scientific studies of Thimerosal’s toxicity support eliminating human exposures. In March 2006 a UC-Davis study noted dendritic cells show unprecedented sensitivity to the mercurial compound, damaging the immune system’s ability to respond normally.

    Wayzata parent Tim Kasemodel has examined new research on ethylmercury toxicity showing cellular damage and death at concentrations thousands of times less than even trace level vaccines. Thimerosal damages cells at a concentration as low as 20 parts per billion, and at 200 ppb causes cell death. Most adult flu shots contain 50,000 ppb of mercury.

    "There is no safe mercury," Kasemodel said. "It’s hard to fathom that the Department of Health can declare mercury safe to inject into little babies and pregnant women. Minnesotans have the right to know mercury is still in vaccines given to children, and that they can choose 100 percent mercury-free shots."

    Unfortunately public health administrators charged with protecting citizens from disease and harm have worked to block citizen groups trying to facilitate the switch from vaccines with toxic levels of mercury to safer shots without the heavy metal, which cost a little more.

    The Minnesota Department of Health’s Immunization division has opposed HF1917, saying that immunization rates will decrease if the general public learns that a number of vaccines still contain mercury. Some major medical organizations have also opposed the bill, citing lack of evidence that mercury in vaccines causes autism. Some object to providing informed consent about the presence of mercury in vaccines, stating it would create unnecessary paperwork.

    In July 1999, a goal was set by the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the U.S. Public Health Service to remove or greatly reduce Thimerosal from vaccines as soon as possible, in consultation with the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. But in recent years, the amount of mercury allowed in recommended vaccines by the CDC has actually increased with recommendation of flu vaccines for infants and pregnant women.

    The 2005 book Evidence Of Harm by former New York Times contributor David Kirby investigates the link between children’s increased injection with ethylmercury from vaccines and the simultaneous increase in the U.S. rate of neurological disorders. The book is being made into a movie by Participant Productions (Syriana, North Country, An Inconvenient Truth).

    Citizens concerned about reducing mercury in vaccines can contact Rep. Thissen at the Capitol by calling (651) 296-5375, or e-mailing him at [email protected]. A list of members serving on Thissen’s health committee can be found at

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