A bill has moved forward in the New Jersey Senate that would create tougher obstacles for parents who seek exemptions from childhood vaccination requirements on religious grounds. The legislation passed a committee vote in the Senate 5-2.
Previously, a parents only needed to submit a letter announcing a religious objection. If Senate bill 1147 becomes law, the requirements will be much more complex.
A parent’s notarized letter must explain “the nature of the person’s religious tenet or practice that is implicated by the vaccination and how the administration of the vaccine would violate, contradict or otherwise be inconsistent with that tenet or practice,” according to the bill (S1147). The statement also most show the tenet “is consistently held by the person,” and is not merely “an expression of that person’s political, sociological, philosophical or moral views, or concerns related to the safety of efficacy of the vaccination.”
They would also have to submit a signed statement by a New Jersey doctor that the person has received counseling about the risks and benefits of vaccinations. Schools would be prohibited from allowing an exemption unless these new requirements are followed.
In the latest issue of Report From the Capital, the BJC’s Holly Hollman discussed the issue of religious exemptions with regard to vaccinations. Religious freedom, she explains, “doesn’t require risking public health.”