What are the facts behind a persistent debate over the safety of childhood vaccinations? A special edition of our NJ 101.5 Town Hall series Wednesday night addressed this vital health topic as two guests addressed different sides of the issue.

Are parents who resist having their children immunized for childhood diseases like measles, mumps and whooping cough contributing to recent outbreaks of these illnesses?

Does the frequency and volume of childhood vaccinations required by New Jersey and most other states present health risks that medical experts are downplaying?

Or are we witnessing a needless confrontation between unfounded fears and proven medical science?

Eric Scott (Chris Swendeman, Townsquare Media NJ)

This special program, part of our Town Hall series, will featured two guests on opposite sides of the vaccination debate:

  • Dr. Ted Louie, an infectious disease expert with the Medical Society of New Jersey, will represent the case for vaccination;
  • The "vaccination-choice" position will be represented by Sue Collins, co-founder of the group "New Jersey Coalition for Vaccination Choice."

While Collins voiced concerns about the safety of vaccinations and indicated that immunization should be a choice, not a requirement, Dr. Louie said "vaccines are extremely safe" and beneficial, especially when you weigh the risks of the diseases they protect against, such as measles and influenza.

No two people are alike, and therefore, Collins said, vaccination requirements should not be the same for everyone.

"We all know everybody’s different, and we have this ‘one-size-fits-all’ program where everybody gets the same dose of every vaccine on the same schedule, and some people are going to be affected,” she said.

Dr. Louie also said there is no evidence that vaccines such as the one for influenza will be dangerous to your immune system.

“There’s no evidence at all that the influenza vaccine compromises your immune system," Louie said. "I would just say that it was the virus mutated such that the vaccine was no longer effective.”

Both guests were on the same page, however when asked what information they should request from their doctor before agreeing to be vaccinated. Dr. Louie stated that patients should ask about the disease they are being vaccinated against, as well as the the chances of dying from the disease and the complications that could arise from the illness as well as the vaccination. Collins added that patients should also ask about the side effects that have been reported from the vaccination.