The decision by the Public Health Council will make New Jersey the first state to require annual shots for influenza and bacterial (pneumococcal) pneumonia for infants and toddlers. For sixth-graders, the state also will mandate a meningitis vaccination and a booster for diphtheria/pertussis/ tetanus, or DPT.
Parents will have just two ways to opt out: religious conviction or medical necessity.
State Health Commissioner Fred Jacobs is expected to approve the regulation by the end of the month.
New Jersey has the country's highest autism rate, with one in 94 children affected by the neurological disorder that has no known cause or cure. A growing movement of activists believes that vaccines containing the preservative thimerosal are a chief contributor, although the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has dismissed the connection.
One parent, Anne Downing of Readington, testified about receiving a flu shot when she was pregnant. Today her 7-year-old daughter has autism.
"Try having your child bite chunks out of your skin ... or threaten to chop your head off," she said. "Something's going on with these vaccines and we don't want any more mandates."
"There is no scientifically supported evidence that this causes autism," Dr. Eddy Bresnitz, deputy New Jersey health commissioner and state epidemiologist, told the council Monday. "The facts and the science do not support this opinion."
Autism can cause a range of behavioral and cognitive problems, from barely noticeable to completely incapacitating. Children whose autism is detected early, and who undergo intensive behavioral, occupational and other therapies appear to have the best chance of leading typical lives.
The 60-year-old Public Health Council, consisting of eight members appointed by the governor, acts as an independent adviser to the Department of Health and Senior Services. Jacobs has the option of rejecting its recommendation, but he has supported such vaccinations in the past.
Authorities on Monday said he will sign the new regulation before he leaves Governor Corzine's administration for a private-sector job.
The rules will take effect Sept. 1, in time for the school year. To enroll their children in licensed preschool or day care, parents must show proof of vaccination. Sixth-graders who lack their shots will be denied entrance to public school.
The council noted that it has no jurisdiction over children who are home-schooled or attend parochial schools. And no one will force immunizations on youngsters who are not enrolled in out-of-home care.
"If you don't send your kid to preschool or day care, you don't have to get the shots," said Tom Slater, a spokesman for the Department of Health.
Some doctors haven't waited for a mandate. They said they have routinely given such shots to infants, toddlers and sixth-graders for years, on the advice of federal health authorities and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
At the hearing, pediatricians, nurses and public-health officials called childhood vaccinations one of the country's great achievements, protecting against mumps, measles, rubella, smallpox, whooping cough, polio and other diseases that can cause grave sickness or death. The benefits of new immunizations, they said, far outweighed the risks.
"We have forgotten the seriousness of these diseases," said Dr. Stephen Rice, a Monmouth County pediatrician.
Dr. Robert Morgan, another pediatrician from Monmouth County, asked parents to consider a wider responsibility.
"You're not making a decision just for your child," Morgan said. "You're making it for the reading circle at the library, for other children who come along in the family."
But some parents and activists criticized forced immunization as anti-American. They decried the lack of long-term studies on the vaccines' safety.
"We deserve a choice, not a mandate," said Sue Collins, co-founder of the New Jersey Alliance for Informed Choice in Vaccination.
Assemblywoman Charlotte Vandervalk, R-Westwood, was the sole legislator to testify.
"Children of this state are assaulted with shot after shot before they go to school," she said. "Don't force it on those who have these objections. This is America. What's happened to our freedom?"
By Sept. 1, 2008, New Jersey children in day care, preschool and sixth grade will be required to have four new vaccinations, under regulations expected to be signed this month.
Age 8 weeks to 4 years, 9 months: Pneumococcal (bacterial) pneumonia
Age 6 months to 4 years, 9 months: Influenza
Sixth grade: DPT booster, meningitis
Children who do not attend preschool or day care will not be forced to receive the flu and bacterial pneumonia vaccinations. Nor will those who are enrolled in parochial school or who are home-schooled.
Parents may seek two types of exemptions.
For a medical waiver, a licensed physician must certify that immunization would harm the child.
For a religious waiver, a parent must certify that the vaccination would "conflict with the pupil's exercise of bona fide religious tenets or practices." The law does not allow a child to forgo immunization based solely on philosophical or moral grounds.
Robert Kennedy on the Vaccine Autism Coverup
About This Video:
Robert Kennedy talks about the cover up regarding vaccines and Autism.
In June 2000, a group of top government scientists and health officials gathered for a meeting at the isolated Simpsonwood conference center in Norcross, Georgia. Convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the meeting was held at this Methodist retreat center, nestled in wooded farmland next to the Chattahoochee River, to ensure complete secrecy. The agency had issued no public announcement of the session -- only private invitations to fifty-two attendees. There were high-level officials from the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration, the top vaccine specialist from the World Health Organization in Geneva and representatives of every major vaccine manufacturer, including GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Wyeth and Aventis Pasteur. All of the scientific data under discussion, CDC officials repeatedly reminded the participants, was strictly "embargoed." There would be no making photocopies of documents, no taking papers with them when they left.
The federal officials and industry representatives had assembled to discuss a disturbing new study that raised alarming questions about the safety of a host of common childhood vaccines administered to infants and young children. According to a CDC epidemiologist named Tom Verstraeten, who had analyzed the agency's massive database containing the medical records of 100,000 children, a mercury-based preservative in the vaccines -- thimerosal -- appeared to be responsible for a dramatic increase in autism and a host of other neurological disorders among children. "I was actually stunned by what I saw," Verstraeten told those assembled at Simpsonwood, citing the staggering number of earlier studies that indicate a link between thimerosal and speech delays, attention-deficit disorder, hyperactivity and autism. Since 1991, when the CDC and the FDA had recommended that three additional vaccines laced with the preservative be given to extremely young infants -- in one case, within hours of birth -- the estimated number of cases of autism had increased fifteenfold, from one in every 2,500 children to one in 166 children.
THE GOVERNMENT AND VACCINE MANUFACTURES KNOW VACCINES ARE CAUSING DAMAGE TO THOUSANDS.
By ELISE YOUNG
Health Vaccine Autism Children Parents Influenza Bacterial Pneumonia Meningitis Vaccination Neurological Disorder Mumps Measles Rubella