More than 900 children in Ocean County may not have been vaccinated properly. New details are emerging about the complaint filed by the state Attorney General’s office against Dr. Michael Bleiman of Southern Ocean Pediatrics and Family Medicine in Manahawkin who allegedly doled out improperly refrigerated vaccines to area children between November 2014 and July 28, 2016.
The affected vaccines were given through Vaccines for Children, a federally funded program that provides free or low-cost vaccines to eligible low-income children in New Jersey. Vaccines given to children included measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, hepatitis A and B, rotavirus, DTaP/Tdap, Hib, pneumococcal, polio, meningococcal and HPV.
On July 28, health inspectors found Bleiman’s practice had 280 vaccines stored at incorrect temperatures. Inspectors quarantined the vaccines at the Manahawkin practice and told Bleiman not to use them until they were proved effective. The state alleges he gave patients the vaccines anyway. From July 28 to October 24, the state found Bleiman’s practice gave 38 children compromised vaccines, including the ones that were supposed to remain quarantined, authorities allege.
The faulty vaccines themselves pose no health risks to children who received them, but may not be fully effective in protecting against the diseases they were meant to fight. Children may be able to get blood tests called titers to determine whether the vaccines were effective, but tests are not available for all diseases. Some children may need to get new vaccines. Department of Health officials said it is not recommending that affected children be excluded from school and will leave revaccination decisions to parents, guardians and their health care providers.
Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin, which is part of Hackensack Meridian Health, will be setting up a hotline to help families evaluate the need for revaccination. The state Department of Health said families can call the NJ Health Hotline at 1-866-448-2432 for questions related to this incident.
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