Adverse reactions to vaccines are rare. NJ senator wants hard numbers
Adverse reactions to vaccines are rare, and usually minor. But a state senator is pushing for a registry that would put hard numbers behind any that occur.
New Jersey State Senator Robert Singer -- a Republican representing Lakewood, the site of the state's most recent measles outbreaks -- said he hopes data collected will help put parents' minds at ease.
“We’ve had a number of people concerned about vaccinations and creating certain problems with children having so many at one time,” New Jersey State Senator Robert Singer, R-Lakewood, said.
His plan for a registry, recording any adverse impacts for people under the age of 19, comes despite studies and a consensus among the medical community that the vaccines distributed to prevent a variety of illnesses -- including those required to attend New Jersey schools, such as for polio, measles and tetanus -- are safe.
“We want to dispel that factor and let people have a look and say 'OK, we’ve done vaccinations in the State of New Jersey for the last several years. Here’s the rate of incidences with them and what effects there were on that,'" Rice said.
He said especially since we’ve had a recent measles outbreak in Ocean County, “I think it’s important for us to look at it, document it, and say whether it’s true or not.”
Among the most tenacious assertions among parents concerned about vaccines: The suggestion some could cause autism spectrum disorders. The Centers for Disease Control rejects that, noting a 2011 Institute of Medicine report on eight vaccines given to children and adults "found that with rare exceptions, these vaccines are very safe."
It also points to a 2013 study of its own finding there was no link between vaccines and autism. That study looked at the number of antigens from vaccines during the first two years of life -- and found the same amounts among children with and without ASD.
The CDC also recommends the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, to prevent against diseases that can in some cases be deadly or cause serious birth defects. It does note the MMR vaccine has been linked with seizures in some rare cases, though those febrile are not associated with long-term side effects. It can also cause swelling, a temporary low platelet count leading to a bleeding disorder (though one that usually clears on its own).
The CDC says "extremely rarely" a person may have a serious allergic reaction to the vaccine, generally among people who have bad reactions to the antibiotic neomycin. Particularly because a small group of people who have had such past reactions to that or other vaccine components may be bad candidates for it, it recommends others get vaccinated, to minimize the chance of the diseases spreading through a community.
It addresses other common questions and concerns about vaccines here.
Singer said he’s heard from many people who have said they'd feel more comfortable with years of state data to examine.
He said under his proposed measure, if a health professional administered a vaccine and there was some kind of adverse effect, it would have to be reported.
"You’d have to bring it into a hospital and have it verified if it’s that serious," he said.
He acknowledged “it is a very rare instance of ... certainly anything serious" -- saying reactions might more typically be "some discomfort, a rash, things along those lines.”
But he argued creating a record makes sense.
“It’s one thing to say get vaccinated, and then the naysayers say 'Wait a second. I don’t want to hurt my child. I have a right to do that.' And we’re saying 'OK, let’s take a look at it. Let’s document it. Lett’s take a look at the types of incidents,'" Rice said.
He added there’s a lot of misinformation being spread, but we have proof vaccinations can help to stop serious health issues from arising.
“We’ve seen a number of diseases eradicated. At one time measles were eradicated in this country. It’s now not eradicated," he said.
Some groups, including the New Jersey Coalition for Vaccination Choice, question why children are now required to get more than 50 vaccines before they reach their 18th birthday.
Singer said he doesn't know whether vaccinations should be given in clusters, but said the more objective information we have, the better.
“Doing this kind of study on a state basis will be helpful in helping people make decisions to vaccinate their children or not," he said.
The measure has been formally introduced and is now awaiting review by the State Senate Health Committee.
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