New Jersey May Tighten Vaccine Requirements

Will ask residents to prove they really have religious objections.

flu vaccine

Some New Jersey legislators want to make it tougher for state residents to claim religious exemptions to otherwise-mandatory vaccinations, the Courier-Post reports.

The number of New Jersey public school students citing such objections to avoid vaccines has quadrupled in recent years, from 1,500 to 9,000; in 2008 the state told schools to accept claims of religious objections without question. That policy is now being reconsidered by lawmakers.

Long story short: They’re no longer willing to take claims of faith (natch) on faith.

They say religious exemptions to mandatory vaccinations should require parents to spell out the bona fide religious tenets or practices that are in conflict, through a notarized, sworn, written explanation in which they acknowledge the risks and benefits of vaccination to the student and public health.

“That’s really that simple. We’re not asking for a letter from the Pope or anyone like that,” said Sen. Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex, who acknowledges he’d eliminate all religious exemptions if he had his way but that’s unrealistic.

The proposal is drawing objections, the paper says. “Asking for a tenet of my personal religion that will be reviewed by school and government administrators and health officials, it’s similar to asking for someone to quote Scripture to be allowed to circumcise their baby,” said said Hilary Downing of Readington. She says her daughter’s health was harmed by a vaccine.

The New Jersey Senate’s health committee has already given approval to the bill. A committee in the Assembly is expected to take up the proposal today.