LITTLE ROCK - A bill to reduce mercury levels in vaccinations and require written consent before children or pregnant women could receive vaccinations containing mercury failed to get out of a Senate committee Monday.

Senate bill 911 by Sen. Gilbert Baker, R-Conway, failed in a voice vote in the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee after several health care professionals testified that there is no proven health hazard and said the bill would discourage some people from receiving vaccinations that can be life-saving.

SB 911 would require that After Aug. 1, 2008, no person age 8 or younger and no pregnant woman be vaccinated in Arkansas with a vaccine containing more than 0.5 microgram of mercury per 0.5 milliliter dose of vaccine.

Also under the bill, any person age 8 or younger or pregnant woman would have to sign a written consent form before receiving a vaccine containing more than that amount of mercury.

The bill would require the public to be informed about mercury levels in vaccines through public service announcements, advertisements and other materials distributed by the state.

Baker said the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended in 1999 that mercury be removed as soon as possible from all vaccines. Most childhood vaccines no longer contain mercury, but some flu vaccines still do, he said.

Baker said vaccine manufacturers are moving on their own to eliminate mercury from all vaccines, so the section of the bill requiring reduction of mercury levels by August 2008 would pose no problem to enforce.

Until that time, the public should be informed about mercury levels in flu vaccines and should know that there is a choice, Baker said.

"We feel wholeheartedly that pregnant women, women, men, children need to take a flu shot, have a flu vaccine. We just (think) pregnant women should have the option of taking the flu vaccine that's on the shelf right now."

The committee heard from several parents who said their children exhibited symptoms mirroring the symptoms of mercury poisoning after they were exposed to vaccines containing mercury.

"The horrible image of my daughter's tiny blue body against the stark white gurney sheet is something that will never leave my memory," said Stephanie Pearson of Fort Smith, whose daughter, Sydney, went into shock and suffered a grand mal seizure within four hours of receiving a vaccination when she was 4 months old.

Dr. James Phillips of the Department of Health and Human Services' Division of Health testified that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended removing mercury from vaccines because of the public's concerns, not because it was convinced there was a link between mercury in vaccines and neurological problems. Since 1999, further research has found no such link, he said.

Comment: Nonsense. Studies have shown the link. They've just been supressed. See for example, the story.

Several doctors testified that the bill would discourage some people from receiving vaccinations that can be life-saving.

"We think you should oppose this bill because it would erode confidence in the public vaccination system," said Dr. Eddie Ochoa, a pediatrician at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Comment: Why is "confidence in the public vaccination system" an argument to continue deadly vaccinations? Most "vaccinated" diseases have shown a steady decline prior to the introduction of inocculation.

Baker said after the meeting that he had not yet decided whether to present the bill again.