The season of the school season provokes heated conversations about vaccinations, and pediatrician Harry Banshik says he is preparing to deal with a handful of parents who refuse to comply.
The doctor said he would not drop these families from his practice – a choice made by an increasing number of pediatricians because "the child does not have to suffer because of the ignorance of the parents." But he requires them to sign a form in which says they have been advised of the benefits of vaccines.
"In my opinion, people who do not get vaccinated abuse the generosity of people who get vaccinated," says Banshik, chief of pediatrics at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck. If they vaccinate 90 percent or more of a community, the chances of getting sick are slim.
The New Jersey Hospitals Association, a trade group for hospitals and nursing homes in the state, joined the conversation last week as the nation is seeing the largest spike in measles cases in the fourth century. Her research team, the Center for Health Analysis, Research and Transformation, has cut data on how many people have been exposed to vaccine-preventable diseases in the last few years, hoping that the information on the sheer number of cases will obscure the false information available online .
According to the report:
- The flu rate in New Jersey has more than doubled from 1
- There were 2,500 hospital admissions and 27,000 trips to the emergency ward last year because of the flu.
- Last year, there were 13,000 hospital admissions and 15,000 ER trips due to pneumonia.
- Last year, 10 percent of the 372 measles cases reported in the country were in New Jersey. All but seven were in Ocean County.
- A total of 1,203 measles cases were reported nationwide this year through August 16, with 18 in New Jersey.
- The number of religious exceptions allowing children from school to miss vaccines has increased by 53 percent over the past five years. Twenty-six students in every 1,000 were not vaccinated last year.
- Health Relations Magazine published an article in 2016 that says the cost of preventable vaccines in the country is $ 9 billion to treat and lose workers' productivity, a report says. Non-vaccinated adult illnesses represent $ 7 billion in costs.
"The cost of preventable diseases is too high – and I'm not talking about the actual cost of care," said Kati Bennett, president and CEO of the Hospitals Association. "As a health care system and as individuals, we must prioritize easy interventions, such as vaccines that have proven effective in protecting us against serious and life-threatening diseases."
Doctors and other healthcare professionals say vaccines are among the most successful stories in public health. Their effectiveness may be why parents question the safety of vaccines, as they have never seen a child with measles, polio and other ailments that have ever developed.
Opponents claim that children suffer terrible side effects, but few ever hear of them because the federal government protects drug-makers in lawsuits by creating a National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.
"Anti-vaccines have a very strong presence on social media," says Suraj Saggar, chief of Infectious Diseases at Holy Name Medical Center, who said he welcomed the hospital
"Science is science. But people can go wrong and they will go astray, "Saggar said. "People have a distrust of vaccinations. They think doctors and hospitals make money, but here we are talking pennies."  The study does not provide an opinion on pending legislation in New Jersey schools that would eliminate the exemption from vaccination for religious reasons.
Banschick at Holy The Name Center recently published a statement in the Jewish Standard in April challenging the idea of religious liberation. "Vaccine refusal is not a teaching of Jewish Orthodox, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, or any other religious community," he writes.
"But unvaccinated children and adults pose a very real risk to babies too young to be vaccinated, to people with compromised immune systems (such as those undergoing cancer treatment), and to pregnant women whose unborn babies may people get infected, "according to
People lose faith in the health care system regarding vaccine safety, according to a survey by the American Society for Microbiology and Research America. In 2008, 80 percent of people said the vaccines were" very important and public health. "In 2018, 70 percent agree with this statement.
The debate about vaccines often focuses on children. But vaccine resistance among adults represents far more cases of serious illness and trips to the hospital. (Report does not include deaths.)
Sixty percent of the 27,021 people who went to the OR were from 19 to 64 years old last flu season. Patients age 65 and older accounted for 55 percent of the 2439 hospitalizations, according to hospital discharge data cited in the study.
Residents often say they will not get the flu again since they last caused a fever. Saggar said this shows that the vaccine "boosts your immune system."
Others complain to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that they are doing a poor job of choosing the right strain for the vaccine. During the 2017-18 flu season – one of the worst "in recent memory" with 49 million infected and 79,000 deaths – the vaccine was only 38 percent effective, the report said. (Usually, the vaccine is at least 40 percent of the estimate and up to 60 percent according to the report.)
This is not yet an excuse for missing the flu, Saggar said. "The severity of the disease is much less," he said of the vaccinated man.
Roger Sarao, the lead author of the study, said he hoped the information would inspire leaders in Trenton and Washington, as well as hospital staff and medical professionals, to work harder to convey the benefits of vaccines.
"There is no lack of information (about vaccines), but like many other aspects of the online community, there is too much information and it is becoming more difficult to separate fact from hyperbole," he said.
Susan K. Livio can be reached at email@example.com . Follow her on Twitter @SusanKLivio . Find NJ.com Politics on Facebook.