WAYNE — Over 70 demonstrators rallied loudly outside William Paterson University's Shea Performing Arts Center last Friday in support of a bill that dictates conscientious exemption to mandatory vaccination.
With hopes of drawing attention of dignitaries lining up for the state's final gubernatorial debate held that night at the center, members of the New Jersey Coalition For Vaccination Choice, despite cold temperatures, spoke passionately from their hearts.
A dozen of guest speakers from doctors to everyday parents shared their personal stories and viewpoints about the dangers of vaccination with much of the emphasis focused on children.
According to information on Vaccination Choice's Web site, 19 states offer conscientious or philosophical exemption to mandatory vaccination, but New Jersey is not included in that group, as it only allows exclusion for medical or religious reasons. New Jersey also approves more vaccines than any other state with 41 doses of 13 different diseases by age 18, most of which is administered to children by age 6, beginning at 12 hours old.
Louise Kuo Habakus, of Red Bank, who started the coalition, began researching vaccinations after both her children as infants experienced severe inflammatory bowel disease following immunization.
"Lobbyists are paid a lot of money by big pharmaceutical companies to get laws passed to mandate vaccines and it has to stop," demanded Habakus.
As listed on package inserts, several adverse effects in children are believed to be the result of vaccines including heart failure, various neurological and autoimmune problems, cancer, SIDS, asthma, anaphylaxis or severe food allergies, autism, as well as diabetes, and obesity, Vaccination Choice says.
The New Jersey Assembly approved a bill in May that requires insurance companies to assume the cost of therapy for autism, which currently affects one out of 91 children in the state, the highest rate in the nation, as stated on Vaccination Choice's Web site.
Habakus, asking parents to make their own decisions, said, "We're not saying vaccinations cause autism, but it causes the same symptoms so…"
Among a sea of homemade signs some read: "Big business has protection from Congress" and "Stop gate keeping the information."
"Gov. Corzine and others have not listened to us but we're here and we're angrier now and growing in numbers," Habakus yelled. "If you want our vote, show us what's best for our children."
Coalition members urge further testing on vaccine ingredients and for manufacturers to study how vaccines interact with each other. Vaccination Choice notes that existing science doesn't implicate vaccines or their ingredients as causes for chronic and neurodevelopmental disorders.
An emotional Patty Difiglia spoke about her daughter Gionna, who she said became ill with extreme fever and heavy diarrhea after a receiving four vaccines for Hepatitis B.
"After checking her, we realized she was not breathing and we immediately dialed 911 but the police were unable to revive her. It was initially reported that she died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) but no tests proved conclusive that that was the cause. It was finally determined that she died due to injury from vaccination," said Difiglia adding, "I'm not against vaccines but I don't think our children's health should be risked due to them."
There are several exemption complications, such as religious exemption, which forces parents into an all or none status. Many parents choose to home school their kids in order to avoid pressures of vaccination requirements.
Craig and Vicki Schwartz, of Hightstown, who are both teachers in elementary and middle schools, say an increase in autistic programs and children with peanut allergies led them to begin questioning vaccinations. Claiming religious exemption has allowed them to bypass vaccine protocol. "Our son Noah had a few vaccines until he was a year old and then we decided against it. And our daughter Juliana was a home birth and has never been vaccinated," said Craig Schwartz.
Vaccination Choice also speaks to adults about the seasonal flu shot, as well as the newly released H1N1 shot.
Over 90 percent of the regular flu vaccine supply contains 25 mcg of mercury, which is a known neurotoxin. Parents, though, are up in arms, since the seasonal flu shot was mandated last year for children age 6 to 59 months who attend daycare and pre-school programs in New Jersey.
Various doctors on hand also warned passerby's of the dangers of the H1N1 flu vaccine, which has only been tested on 19 children. The government has ordered 251 million vaccine doses, leaving coalition members to question the necessity for what's being alleged to be a mild pandemic, no worse than the regular flu.
Bill A260/S1071 for no forced vaccinations has broad, bipartisan support with 39 sponsors on board so far, including local Assemblyman Scott Rumana. If passed, New Jersey will join states such as Arizona, California, New Mexico, Vermont, Maine, and Ohio to offer such a choice.