By CBSNewYork Team

MONTVILLE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — There’s a new effort to offer a legal pathway towards refusing the COVID vaccine while enjoying the benefits of getting the shot.

It’s become increasingly harder to go to entertainment venues, bars, restaurants, even work, without the COVID vaccine.

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With that in mind, New Jersey State Sen. Joe Pennacchio says he’s working on legislation to provide another option.

“We want to make sure that there are legal grounds for people to refuse the vaccine if they’ve already been infected and have symptoms with COVID,” he told CBS2’s Kevin Rincon.

He says people who have recovered should be treated the same as those who are fully vaccinated, and that’s not to say he’s opposed to the vaccine.

“If you’re elderly, if you’re frail, if you have comorbid issues, I absolutely think that you should consider getting vaccinated,” Pennacchio said.

COVID VACCINE

One reason he’s pushing for the change is a new Israeli study, yet to be peer reviewed, that suggests natural immunity is 13 times stronger than having two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

That same study, however, found having had COVID and getting the vaccine provided another layer of protection.

As for doctors, they say it’s about stopping the spread of the virus.

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“If someone had very severe disease, as you can imagine, they have a more profound immune response. If someone had an asymptomatic or mild disease, they may have a less robust immune response,” said Dr. Suraj Saggar, chief of infectious disease at Holy Name Hospital.

What that all means is that natural immunities are different from person to person. So are symptoms.

“Yes, thankfully the case fatality rate is very low, but this is not something that we just want everyone to go get the disease and recover and think that there’s no downstream complications. That’s not the case,” Saggar said.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

One area Pennacchio is focused on is kids. He says they’re often asymptomatic.

“You should have pause if you’re a parent to question whether or not you want to stick that child with a needle in their arm,” he said.

But Dr. Saggar disagrees, saying there are two things to consider.

“We are seeing a massive increase in children hospitalized compared to first, second and third wave … And understand, we don’t live in a bubble. A child can still easily transmit to an elderly parent, an elderly grandparent living at home,” he said.

This week, the American Academy of Pediatrics found as schools reopen across the country, they’ve seen nearly half a million new COVID cases among children.

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CBS2’s Kevin Rincon contributed to this report.

CBSNewYork Team