Millington, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – New Jersey lawmakers have made compromises in hopes of getting a vaccination bill passed next week.
The plan, which is much different than New York’s, is at the center of a heated debate.
Dozens showed up to protest at the New Jersey State House Thursday as lawmakers debated a controversial bill.
As the bill stands now in New Jersey, you will not be allowed to use religion as a reason not to get your child vaccinated if attending public school.
A compromise was made on the bill for private schools and daycares. Those programs would be allowed to accept unvaccinated children.
Democrats needed one more vote to get the bill passed. Republican State Senator Declan O’Scanlon was that votes, but only with amendments.
“The previous bill, in its previous form, was overwhelmingly restrictive. It covered public institutions, it covered private institutions, which covered every daycare. You would only be able to homeschool your child,” O’Scanlon said.
CBS2’s Meg Baker spoke to Sue Collins, the president of New Jersey Coalition for Vaccination Choice.
“This once again plays into the wealthy having the ability to opt out of a law that the rest of us have to abide by. It continues to further segregate New Jersey schools,” Collins said.
New Jersey’s plan is much different than New York state’s, where religious exemptions are no longer allowed for public, private or religious schools. There were more than 430 cases of measles in New York in 2018. New Jersey had an outbreak in Ocean County in 2019. The state health department says all 12 were either unvaccinated, or had unknown vaccination status.
“This is a threatening disease. And exactly what the pro-vaccine people told us would happen as we have increased non-vaccination rates is happening. And that puts every child at risk,” O’Scanlon said.
The outbreak of measles in New Jersey and other states prompted lawmakers to get involved in the health decision. There were 14,000 students granted religious exemptions in the 2018-19 academic year.
The bill goes up for a full Senate and Assembly vote on Monday. If Gov. Phil Murphy signs it, it would take effect six months later.
New Jersey would be the sixth state to pass such a law, joining California, Maine, Mississippi, West Virginia and New York.