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Officials Defend Safety of Vaccines for Kids

No Evidence of Link Between Thimerosal Preservative and Autism, Health Officials Say

Thimerosal Legislation continued...

Gerberding said that she "cannot sit here and tell you with 100% certainty" that a link between autism and vaccines will never be found in individual children. "The predominance of evidence does certainly not reveal an association between thimerosal and autism," she said.

Bobbi Manning, vice president of a group known as Advocates for Children's Health Affected by Mercury Poisoning, tells WebMD that officials "are not being completely honest about the effects of mercury."

"It's not enough to hear that they've taken thimerosal out of vaccines. We still have a lot of damaged children," she said.

Rep. David Weldon (R-Fla.), who is an internal medicine doctor, said that he plans to introduce legislation tomorrow gradually banning thimerosal from all childhood vaccines beginning in 2007. Weldon also says he'll push for more government research on the causes of America's rising autism rate.

"We all know that these vaccines save thousands of lives," Weldon told reporters. "I think the incidence [of autism] is definitely up and what's yet to be determined is why that is."

As for the defense of vaccines by health officials on Tuesday, Weldon said: "They just want to reassure people because the press tomorrow is going to be raising a lot of questions about mercury."

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