Clarifies statutory exemptions from mandatory immunizations for students

NJEA supports the intent of S-1759 (Weinberg/Vitale), but is seeking minor amendments to clarify the process for students to be exempt from mandatory immunizations. As written, the bill would allow students to be exempt from mandatory immunizations if the student, parent or guardian provides the school or higher education institution with a written note from a licensed physician indicating that the vaccine is undesirable or a written note from the parent or guardian indicating that the vaccine conflicts with the student’s bona fide religious beliefs and practices.

NJEA fully recognizes the public health need to implement a clear and consistent policy when it comes to providing exemptions to mandatory immunizations in our school system. Such a policy is important to protecting the health of other students in the school system as well as the school employees who care for and interact with all students on a daily basis.

In order to maintain a policy consistent with other New Jersey law pertaining to medical exemptions, NJEA respectfully requests that the bill be amended to include other health care professionals. Therefore, we suggest language that includes “a physician of medicine or osteopathy, an advanced practice nurse or physician assistant licensed to practice in the United States.”

Furthermore, we believe that in addition to students attending elementary and secondary schools and higher education, students attending early childhood programs should also be included in this policy. Many school districts have early childhood programs within the same building as elementary programs. The vaccination policy should be consistent for those children as well.

NJEA looks forward to working with the sponsors of this bill to include the above mentioned language.