Town Clarifies Opposition To Vaccine Bill

Berkeley Town Hall (Photo by Jason Allentoff)

BERKELEY – The Township Council still expressed opposition to a bill eliminating religious exemptions to vaccines, but explained further why they feel the bill is problematic.

  This bill, sponsored Senator Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen), would impact the School Sanitary Code. It affects all ages of school children, from child care to higher education, and public as well as private schools. Most schools by law require children attending to be vaccinated against several potentially fatal diseases.

  “We are not denying science or advocating putting children at risk,” Business Administrator John Camera said. “We are concerned with the constitutional rights of all New Jersey residents whether: they are in favor of having their children receive all required vaccines on the recommended timelines, they would rather choose only certain vaccines, they prefer to spread out the dosages or, they choose not to have any, they should have the right to make those medical choices. The argument here is about government overreaching to dictate medical choices which should be left to individual adults and parents of minor children. Senator Weinberg is simply using a scare tactic in an attempt to continue to take away more constitutional rights of New Jersey residents.”

  Initially, some members of the governing body said during a meeting that the bill would allow school nurses to give vaccines without parental consent. 

  After an article about this appeared online, Camera stated that some members of the governing body mixed up the bill with a bill in another state that would propose school nurses give vaccinations without consent. 

  Currently, a family can claim a religious exemption to prevent getting vaccinations. This bill would get rid of that exemption.

  Vaccinations would still be held off if there is a medical reason, but that medical reason has to come in writing from a medical professional, the bill stated. There is a document that has to be filled out by certain kinds of licensed medical professionals, and the specific reason must be given as to why the vaccine would be harmful.

  The New Jersey bill passed in the Assembly but the Senate canceled a vote when it was clear that it didn’t have enough to pass.

  Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney told The New York Times that the bill will come back when there’s more support.

  An earlier version of the bill only made parents clarify the religious reason for declining a vaccination, stating the reason can’t be “political, sociological, philosophical, or moral views; or concerns related to the safety or efficacy of the vaccination.” That version would have made parents specify the exact tenet of their religion that is against vaccinations. The current version, however, eliminates all religious exemptions.