I get the vaccine debate. I also remember polio (Opinion)
Jim Gearhart has a lot of sympathy for parents worried about mandatory vaccines.
Protesting parents managed to get the state Senate to punt on a bill that would have removed religious exemptions to vaccine requirements for public school students -- a get-out-of-shots card legislative leaders say was being abused by people with no real religious objections, at the potential peril of herd immunity that protects us all against dangerous diseases.
Medical exemptions, for students with known health complications that prevent them from safely getting vaccines, would not have been affected by the bill.
"There is something that goes against the grain with the government forcing anything on us," Jim says in this week's episode of his weekly Facebook Live show and podcast.
He wonders why the state requires as many vaccines as it does ("I can't even think of 64 diseases," Jim says). And he subscribes to the idea that in most cases, the human body is pretty good at regulating itself without a lot of outside intervention.
But Jim, an octogenarian, also remembers the horror proponents or vaccines are trying to stave off.
"People do not remember, as I can, how many kids in school were what was known as crippled in those days because of polio," Jim says.
And sure, we've virtually wiped out polio and smallpox, but, Jim says, "If you had seen the results of these afflictions that people got ... especially children before there were inoculations, I think you might think twice about this."
In any case, state Senate President Steve Sweeney has vowed to see bill removing religious exemptions go through in a new legislative session, no matter how loud the protests get.
"Whether you like this or not, or yell and scream and are against it or not, you're going to get it in what amounts to a political enema," Jim says. "There's no way you're going to even avoid it."
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That's just part of what Jim and Bob Williams take on in the latest installment of his show, also available as a podcast. Check out the full episode to hear the rest.
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— New Jersey 101.5 staff. Includes prior reporting by Dan Alexander
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