No more opting out of vaccinations for religious reasons:
The Legislature may eliminate the religious exemption that allowed 14,000 students in the state to decline vaccines last year.
Some of the hundreds of parents who attended a Statehouse hearing on the bill on Thursday accused the state of violating their First Amendment right to religious freedom, vowing to pull their children out of school or relocate out of New Jersey.
The president of the New Jersey chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, meanwhile, argued that their “right to practice religion freely does not include ... exposing the community or a child to a communicable disease.”
The bill would allow children to seek an exemption only for medical reasons. The state Health Department would define which health conditions would qualify, and a physician, advance practice nurse or physician assistant must verify in writing the child had the disqualifying illness, according to the bill.
The bill gained momentum in January, after a measles outbreak dominated the news. There have been 19 confirmed cases of measles this year in New Jersey, and 1,276 nationwide.