Amid a growing battle over vaccine choice, New Jersey lawmakers seem poised to advance a measure Thursday that would only allow schoolchildren to be exempted from immunization requirements for medical reasons, eliminating the “religious exemption” now on the books.
A controversial Senate bill to significantly restrict these religious exemptions was apparently amended late Wednesday to align with an Assembly version that strikes this option entirely, according to a draft shared with NJ Spotlight, meaning kids would need a doctor’s note to attend class without first getting these shots. Roughly 30,000 children requested some form of exemption this year, according to the state.
The proposal is scheduled for a vote Thursday in the Senate health committee, where it is expected to be approved — although some usual members may be replaced for the hearing by other lawmakers to ensure the legislation has sufficient support; the bill is also listed on the agenda for a full Senate vote on Monday. Advocates for and against the measure plan to show up in force Thursday for what is likely to be a raucous and emotional hearing.