New Jersey Vaccine Exemption Bill Defeated With More on the Way
On Monday, January 13, opponents of mandatory vaccination in New Jersey successfully defeated an attempt to change a policy that allows unvaccinated children to attend public school. The legislative effort was part of a broader movement around the United States that seeks to end vaccine exemptions for religious, medical, and personal reasons.
New Jersey vaccine advocates and lawmakers have been working diligently in recent months to pass legislation to eliminate religious exemptions from childhood vaccinations. However, the latest bill failed due to pressure from parents and advocates who fear the potential risks of vaccinations are putting children in harm’s way.
During the final hours of debate on the rule change, hundreds of parents and vaccine choice advocates protested and rallied outside the New Jersey Capitol building. If the bill had passed, New Jersey would have been the sixth state to allow only medical exemptions from required vaccines. New Jersey state data show that the parents of nearly 14,000 students claimed religious exemptions last year.
Despite the latest failure, New Jersey State Senate President Stephen Sweeney said that the Senate is “ready to go to war” over the fight for vaccine exemptions. “We will pass this bill. This is about public health,” he said.
State Senator Loretta Weinberg (D), a cosponsor of the bill, said she understands the passion of those who oppose the bill. However, Weinberg says that “fundamentally this not a personal choice, and in society it is the duty of healthy members to work together to protect those who cannot protect themselves.”
Indeed, new bills have apparently been introduced already. The Instagram account for the NJ Freedom Keepers stated, “A3818 & S2173 have been renamed, we now have S902 & A969! We do not know when they will vote on these bills. The first Senate session on the legislative calendar is February 10th and the first assembly session is February 24th.” The post claims that the language of the new bills is exactly like the previously amended bills relating to exemptions for public school children.
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Back to work! A3818 & S2173 have been renamed, we now have S902 & A969! We do not know when they will vote on these bills. The first Senate session on the legislative calendar is February 10th and the first assembly session is February 24th. THERE IS NO AGENDA for these sessions or any thereafter, therefore there is no way to know when and if these bills will be voted on until agendas are posted! (This is typically done several days before a session) Both bills read exactly like the previous amended bills (exemptions for non public schools) but they can be amended anytime during this session. We must continue to be vigilant and educate our legislators. We need Phone calls, emails, tweets and in person meetings to consistently express our concern and opposition to these bills! If you haven’t already please text NJSHF to 313131 to get action alerts! Stay strong NJ! @freedomkeepersunited @innovativeparentingnj @standforhealthfreedom
It’s clear that the battle between vaccine advocates and those with questions regarding vaccine safety is far from over. Lawmakers in Connecticut, Idaho, and Washington have also introduced legislation to overturn exemption laws. The debate around the exemptions brings up questions regarding individual liberties and the collective or public good. Opponents of mandatory vaccinations believe the liberties of the individual should be respected, while proponents believe public health overrides individual freedoms.
Despite being labeled under the general term “anti-vaxxers,” the community of parents and advocates who question vaccine mandates are a varied group with wide ranging views. While some opponents of vaccine exemptions oppose all vaccination mandates, others call for adjusting the mandated vaccine schedule, and still others support vaccinations but support individual choice as well.
In a recent opinion piece published on North Jersey, independent journalist Margaret Hetherman detailed these diverse views and some of the reasons parents are skeptical of vaccine safety. Hetherman explained:
“Today’s CDC schedule calls for 54 vaccines by age 18 (or more, if adding flu shots or considering inoculations of DTaP and MMR as three separate vaccines each). If you can have a bad reaction to an aspirin, are parents wrong to consider risks and benefits as they would with any medical procedure? That doesn’t make them anti-vax; that makes them vaccine-sensible. Many people vaccinate their children but believe in informed consent — particularly for diseases that can’t be picked up by casual classroom contact.“
Hetherman also discussed the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), which allows individuals to file for compensation when children experience adverse reactions. The program has awarded over $4 billion in compensation for injuries related to vaccines. The controversial program also shields vaccine manufacturers from liability when their products cause harm in children.
With such a complex topic, the heated debate over vaccines is sure to continue into 2020 and beyond. The Mind Unleashed will follow any relevant developments as they happen.
Video of the January 13 event was posted to Instagram: