The New Jersey State Senate today will vote on removing religious exemptions from vaccinations requirement for children who attend public schools. If passed, New Jersey would become the fifth state in the country to require all children receive specific immunizations to prevent communicable diseases such as measles, mumps and rubella, before being allowed to attend public schools.

The state has seen a significant increase in infectious diseases that were once thought to be virtually eliminated, particularly measles, with 19 confirmed cases in 2019 in four counties. This alarming trend will continue to increase if more parents opt out of vaccinations, putting all children at-risk, especially those who are unable to receive vaccinations due to medical reasons.

Pediatric infectious disease experts at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School promote the administration of vaccines to reduce illnesses and protect New Jersey’s children.

“Pediatricians by virtue are dedicated to promoting healthy growth and development in children. Immunizations that have been given for decades and shown through multiple studies to be safe and effective, are essential for healthy development from childhood to adulthood,” says Patricia Whitley-Williams, MD, professor of pediatrics and chief of allergy, immunology and infectious disease at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical and president-elect of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

“Immunizations are regularly monitored and undergo surveillance to ensure safety. Due to their effectiveness, many diseases known to have a devastating, sometimes fatal, effect on children, such as polio, were nearly eradicated in our country. Ensuring that all children who are able to receive vaccines do, safeguards the health of all children,” says Amisha Malhotra, MD, also a pediatric infectious disease expert and associate professor at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Media interested in interviewing Whitley-Williams or Malhotra can contact Jennifer Forbes at 732-788-8301 or email at mullenjf@rwjms.rutgers.edu.

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