N.J. officials meet with vaccine choice group


As a follow-up to the recent Vaccination Choice Rally in Trenton, a group of parents who believe their children have been injured by vaccines got a chance to meet with Heather Howard of the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS).

The five parents who are also members of the New Jersey Coalition for Vaccination Choice (NJCVC) were invited on Dec. 3 to meet with Howard and seven senior members of her department at the NJDHSS building in Trenton.

Gov. Jon Corzine promised in September to hold the meeting, when he was addressing a large group of parents gathered on NJCVC member Louise Habakus’ front lawn in Middletown after attending a Democratic National Committee fundraiser.

Public pressure has been steadily mounting in support of the parental vaccination choice bill currently in the health committees of the state Assembly and Senate.

A260/S1071 would provide for a conscientious exemption to mandatory vaccinations. More than 10,000 people have signed a petition in support of this bill.

The NJDHSS publicly opposes the bill in a statement on its Internet Web site. The department contends that broad exemptions to mandatory vaccination weaken the compliance and enforcement structure mandating vaccines for school entry and continued attendance.

The department states that if parents can waive vaccination requirements, the dissolution sets precedent for other mandatory health screenings or services to become optional. The department also believes that New Jersey has numerous characteristics that make it particularly vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases, including a large population, a past history of preventable disease outbreaks, a high number of immigrants, and New Jersey’s “corridor state” nature.

The department believes the highest number of children possible should receive vaccines to protect themselves and others due to these characteristics.

The NJDHSS states that all vaccines currently licensed in the United State are safe and effective and that New Jersey only mandates vaccines licensed by the Food and Drug Administration and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other government and professional organizations.

The department also contends that many vaccine-treated diseases do not have other effective treatments and that the resurgence of vaccine-prevented diseaseswould cause economic and human costs related to time lost from work, medical care and public health interventions. Finally, the department believes the more exemptions it allows, the more difficult it would be to prevent vaccine-preventable diseases in the state’s communities.

New Jersey children who attend any public or private school or day care facility are currently required to have 35 doses of 13 vaccines, including an annual flu shot starting at the age of 6 months. The New Jersey government mandates more vaccines than any other state in the country and is the first government in the world to mandate flu and meningococcal shots.

New Jersey parents currently have two means of objecting to the state’s vaccination schedule for children. They can provide a medical exemption from a licensed physician or nurse practitioner that indicates a specific time period in which the child cannot receive specific vaccinations, and reasons for medical contraindication enumerated by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Parents can also seek religious exemption by explaining how immunizing agents conflict with the bona fide practice of their religious tenets.

Parents who violate the vaccination mandate can fall subject to penalties of not less than $50 or more than $1,000, recovered by the state in a civil action in any court of competent jurisdiction.

The proposed conscientious objection bill would give parents the option of objecting to all or some of the mandated vaccines and more control over their children’s vaccination schedule.

According to Habakus, the NJCVC considers the flu shot a controversial vaccine because it has never been proven effective and is no better than a placebo for children under the age of 2.

“There are no adequate safety tests performed, in large part because the vaccine must be reformulated annually,” she said. “And the vast majority of doses contain 25 micrograms of a devastating neurotoxin— thimerasol.”

Habakus said New Jersey should have waited to make its new vaccine mandates, which include the flu shot, to allow time for hearing what the Office of Special Masters of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims finds with regard to recently submitted vaccination research.

“In view of existing and emerging science linking vaccines to neuro-developmental and chronic disease, why wouldn’t we err on the side of caution?” Habakus said, referring to nearly 1,000 studies and findings submitted to the court, which administers a no-fault system for litigating vaccine injury claims. Habakus said Howard met with the parents for two hours, and her staff continued the meeting for an additional 30 minutes.

“Our objective for the meeting was to make sure they fully understood not only the reasons behind the profound trust gap that exists between parents and our health department, but the ramifications of this distrust,” Habakus said.

“I wanted them to hear, in no uncertain terms, that they are creating the very thing they fear the most — that, faced with an increasing number of vaccine mandates and absolutely no answers and no leadership behind the epidemic of autism and chronic disease facing our children, parents will increasingly abandon vaccines. Faced with all or none, more are choosing none,” she said.

The parents showed state officials how many more shots children are given now vs. 25 years ago and noted the increase in chronic, autoimmune and neurodevelopment disorders during precisely the same time frame.

“We reviewed the gross underreporting in Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System and how it ensures we will always be behind the eight ball in identifying vaccine-related problems,” Habakus said. “We shared the government’s list of vaccine-related complications for which families are compensated. We used the Physician’s Desk Reference to list many dozens of ways to die and be harmed by vaccines.”

The parents also discussed disease transmission via live virus vaccines, inappropriate test cohorts for Food and Drug Administration licensure, failure to use true placebos, suitability of using experimental control groups, and the complete absence of studies on carcinogenic, mutagenic potential or the impairment of fertility.

“We reminded them that licensed vaccines are routinely withdrawn, that vaccine makers never adequately studied the simultaneous administration of so many shots, that there has never been any therapeutic benefit to doing so, and that our doctors advise it anyway to increase compliance,” Habakus said. “We provided research that links vaccines to diabetes, asthma and anaphylaxis.”

The parents also told state officials about Dr. George Lucier, the former director of environmental toxicology from the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences, who has conducted research and found that the thimerosal in vaccines causes some cases of autism.

“We reminded them that our government has made massive mistakes in the past, bad drugs are approved, and many people are killed and harmed before they are removed from the market,” Habakus said.

The parents also noted that California and Texas, which are also densely populated, have already passed philosophical exemption bills that have not compromised vaccine compliance in those states.

The group asked the state to acknowledge the public health crisis in New Jersey and to commit to working with parents in an open and transparent process to address the trust gap. They asked the NJDHSS to remove its opposition to A260/S1071 and to ask the governor to put his political support behind passage of the bill.

They asked for the repeal of the four new vaccine mandates and for the state to provide informed vaccination consent literature, which would include full discussion of the risks, not just the benefits of vaccines.

The groups also asked the state to initiate and participate in a series of legislative vaccine roundtables that present all sides of the vaccination debate to help educate legislators on the issues. Similar discussions have just started in New York where a similar conscientious objection bill has been presented.

Howard told the group that the dialogue on the issue has begun and that the state’s door is open to concerned parents, according to Habakus. The officials said they would not remove their opposition to A260/S1071 or repeal the new mandates, but would evaluate new science regarding vaccines.

Habakus said several of those in attendance voiced support for increased effort behind vaccine education and outreach and for a state-appointed doctor to participate in any vaccine roundtable that is organized.

“The bottom line is that we did not get what we wanted,” Habakus said. “The NJDHSS continues with business as usual. Our state appears unwilling to exercise independent judgment to protect the health and welfare of its residents It seems we are more of a test case and an incubator for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s agenda. And our instinct remains true. Real change must come from the parents. Are we ready, New Jersey? We have our work cut out for us.”

The NJCVC held a series of open houses in Little Falls, Princeton and Summit in an effort to gain more support for the vaccination choice bill, which currently has 38 cosponsors in the Assembly and Senate. Habakus encouraged those in support of the bill to make calls and to write to legislators, as well as signing the petition.

For more information visit the Internet Web site at www.njvaccinationchoice.org.