New Jersey lawmakers are considering legislation that would make it harder for parents to use religious exemptions so their children don’t have to get the vaccinations required by schools.
A Senate bill would require a notarized statement specifying the precise religious tenet that vaccination would violate.
Parents would also have to submit a doctor’s letter indicating they received counseling about the benefits of vaccines.
Dr. Lawrence Frenkel of the New Jersey Immunization Network says the legislation is fair and necessary.
“Parents should have the right to decide most issues for their beloved children,” he said. “However, these decisions should be based on scientific facts and reality.”
Sonia DaSilva, who opted out of vaccinations for her children, says the new requirements would be discriminatory.
“The government does not have the right to decide if my reasons are moral or religious,” she said. “Who will decide what constitutes a bona fide belief? How can there be an expert on all religions?”
Supporters of the legislation stress that vaccinating more children would help protect communities from preventable diseases.