MORRIS COUNTY — Senator Joe Pennacchio and Senator Michael Testa have introduced legislation that is designed to give parents more information about the vaccines offered to their children and provide improved legal recourse when adverse reactions to vaccinations occur.
“This legislation is intended to improve upon the haphazard approach to vaccinating our children, which often occurs with no warning to parents and little opportunity to make well-informed choices,” said Pennacchio (R-26). “Parents deserve to be told in advance of an appointment about vaccinations that will be recommended, and given information about vaccine ingredients, efficacy, and risk. Vaccines should be treated no differently than any other drugs. They deserve the same scientific scrutiny that we give to all medicines. A parent has a right to know what is being injected into their child’s body and that it has been properly tested.”
The bill, S-1734, requires that health care practitioners provide information to a patient or the patient’s guardian at least 48 hours prior to the administration of a vaccine, including, a copy of the insert for the vaccine produced by the manufacturer for inclusion in the vaccine’s packaging and list of the vaccine ingredients produced by the federal Centers for Disease Control.
The legislation prohibits a doctor from refusing to provide services to a patient or to seek to transfer care or the patient solely on the refusal of the patient or their guardian to receive a vaccine.
“We’re making sure that parents have ample opportunity to understand and ask questions about the purpose and risk profiles of the vaccinations that their children’s doctors are proposing,” said Testa (R-1). “Should parents decline a particular vaccine, doctors would be required to provide a clear explanation of the potential medical risks and impacts on schooling. Ultimately, we want to empower parents with information to make the vaccination choices that are right for their families.”
Additionally, Pennacchio and Testa have drafted a pair of bills that address the rights of patients who experience adverse reactions to vaccinations.
The first measure, S-1791, would make the State strictly liable for damages stemming from certain vaccine-related injuries if the vaccination was mandated by a State law, rule, or regulation as a condition of attendance at a child care center, preschool program, elementary of secondary school, or institution of higher education, or by emergency declaration, at the time of the vaccine’s administration.
The second measure, a Senate Resolution pending introduction, urges the President of the United States and Congress to repeal the federal National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, which has shielded vaccine manufacturers from liability, removed economic and legal incentives for companies to develop safe vaccines, and made it difficult for those injured by vaccines to receive compensation.
“Parents quickly find that the deck is stacked against them when they seek legal recourse for an adverse reaction to a vaccine,” said Testa. “Our State, which mandates some vaccines for schooling, is immune from liability under current State law, while vaccine manufacturers are immune under federal law from lawsuits when people claim injury. Our legislation will help those who are injured by vaccines to get the compensation they deserve and provide manufacturers with extra incentives to ensure their products are safe.”
Pennacchio said he hopes the package of legislation creates a dialogue about vaccinations.
“It’s important for policymakers and the public to engage in an open dialogue about vaccinations and parental rights, and to try to apply reason-based unbiased science to this important issue,” added Pennacchio. “Given the political realities in Trenton, it may be an uphill battle to advance this legislation, but we should at least have the discussion. It’s the right thing to do.”