By Matt Friedman
The impassioned debate went on for more than an hour – despite witnesses being limited to only 90 seconds per statement.
But a bill that would allow parents to claim a conscientious objection from having their children vaccinated was firmly shot down Monday by the chairman of the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee, who called it a “recipe for disaster.”
The debate marked the first time in seven years the controversial proposal was put up for formal discussion in the Assembly, and had appeared for a time to be gaining some momentum.
However, Assemblyman Herb Conaway (D-Burlington), who chaired the hearing, ultimately refused to hold a vote. Conaway, a physician, warned it could lead to outbreaks of preventable diseases.
The bill, A243, was introduced by Assemblywoman Charlotte Vandervalk (R-Bergen), in response to a growing national dispute over whether parents could decide for themselves whether their children should be vaccinated. More parents across the country are regarding vaccines with some suspicion, over concerns that vaccines may cause long-term neurological damage.
According to the Center for Disease Control, vaccines can cause severe allergic reactions and sometimes do have side effects, though usually minor. A fund set up by the federal government to compensate for vaccine-related injury and death has paid out about $2 billion to 2,580 claimants since it started in 1988.