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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

So many children: Flu vaccines

The New Jersey Public Health Council voted on Monday to require all children in New Jersey who attend preschool or are in day care to get annual flu vaccinations. This makes New Jersey the first state in the nation to require these immunizations.

Dr. Robert Morgan, a Monmouth County pediatrician, said that over the years he and his colleagues had "seen so many children not only suffer but die from diseases that could be immunized against. That could have been prevented simply by administering a vaccine."

Dr. Eddy Bresnitz, the New Jersey Deputy Commissioner of health and the state immunologist, agreed, citing the 600 children hospitalized in the state each year for influenza.

But some parents of autistic children link a mercury compound, thimerosal, in the vaccines to their children's autism. For example, Anne Downing believes her 7-year-old daughter's autism was tied to vaccines for the flu and pneumonia that the girl received in utero and as a baby, respectively. Many experts, however, say no solid evidence supports this view.

Dr. Bresnitz says most vaccines contain no, or negligible amounts of, thimerosal. In any event, he says, parents can request thimerosal-free formulations of the vaccine.

Advice: Vaccinate your kids against the flu. If you're concerned about the risk of autism, ask for a vaccine without thimerosal.

Browse for similar stories in our index at the very bottom of this page, or read a sad flu vaccination story.

Thanks to Jill Capuzzo for the source story in the Dec. 11 issue of the New York Times.

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