NJCVC Progress Through 2008

Our Oct. 16 Rally in front of the Trenton Statehouse had over 700 attendees and drew national media attention.  The speakers were fabulous, including several of our bill’s sponsors, however, our bill was eclipsed by the presidential election and failing economy.

An important deadline is approaching, however:  as of January 15, it is unknown just how many NJ kids will be kept out of daycare & school for not getting their mandated flu shot.  NJ needs Vaccination Choice more than ever.  In December, several meetings are occurring to urge every last legislator to support our bill.  A state-wide phone Call-In in early 2009 will add to the ways that we are raising our voice for vaccination choice.

Going back through 2008, explains NJCVC efforts to turn our bill into law:

After working to spread the word throughout the spring of 2008, our bill (A260/ S1071 Providing for Conscientious Exemption to Mandatory Immunizations) now has 34 co-sponsors- this is fantastic! The list of NJ elected officials supporting this bill includes members of both the Assembly and Senate, and is a diverse and bi-partisan group which demonstrates its broad appeal.

On June 4, several hundred New Jerseyans joined with over 8,000 people from all over the US to attend the "Green Our Vaccines" Rally in DC June 4, 2008. Click here for a full Trip Report.

On June 5, 2008, the NJ health committee on the Senate side held a hearing on our bill. Testifying on behalf of our Coalition were Dr. Lawrence Palevsky (Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, co-founder and President of the Holistic Pediatric Association), Sue Collins (Co-Founder of the New Jersey Alliance for Informed Choice in Vaccination NJAICV) & Barbara Flynn (Founder of NJ’s C.H.E.R.U.B.S Children Having Everyone Real Upset ‘Bout Shots).. Many new facts were brought to the attention of the Committee, and each member received a considerable packet of information from us.

On June 18, 2008 radio talk show host Gary Null discussed vaccination choice, vaccine safety and conflicts of interest in regard to NJ and NY Vaccine mandates and exemption laws with NJCVC member, Sue Collins, along with Dr. Palvesky and Dr. Eisenstein. Download the MP3 or listen online.

The NJ Legislature broke for the summer the last week of June, with all legislators returning to full swing by early October. After months of working closely with legislators, we are looking once again to grassroots help from all around NJ. On Oct. 16, the day of the rally, we also have our second meeting scheduled with NJ Health Commissioner Heather Howard. Among other things, she will hear about the many folks contacting us having problems with our present exemptions in NJ, at the hands of her Health Department. Our bill is a “win-win” situation that remedies inconsistencies of the present system by implementing a single, standardized form for parents to submit indicating their choices.

The status of our bill is thus: in the Assembly, it is parked in the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee. Despite A260 having an impressive 24 Assembly sponsors out of 80 altogether, until the committee puts it up for a vote, we cannot pass “go.” We need to convince the Committee Chair Asm. Conaway to put it on the schedule by politely asking him and his committee colleagues to do so- likely several hundred times. In the Senate, our bill (identical bill, but different number S1071) has not yet been voted out of the Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. While getting a hearing in this Senate committee in early June (this was a non-voting public hearing) was great, our bill still sits unmoving in that committee. We must urge those committee members to bring it up for a vote, to pass it out of their committee, and onto the floor. Next, floor votes are held by the full body, in each the Senate and the Assembly. Once it passes by a floor vote through both houses of the NJ Legislature, it ends up in the hands of the Governor, who must sign it into law. He told us in September 2008 that after the toll hikes, this is the issue about which he gets the most calls/letters from citizens. Keep up the pressure, everyone!

Folks from around NJ must continue to contact their legislators, sharing concerns and personal stories about why we need a conscientious exemption. Support the rally however you can, and plan to hear Coalition member Louise Kuo Habakus as she takes our message around the state with several upcoming talks making the case for Vaccination Choice in NJ.  Come and bring everyone you know who wants to learn more!