ASSEMBLY, No. 3836

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

214th LEGISLATURE

INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 22, 2011

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman HERB CONAWAY, JR.

District 7 (Burlington and Camden)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

Clarifies statutory exemptions from mandatory immunizations for students.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

As introduced.


An Act concerning exemptions from mandatory immunizations for students and amending P.L.1974, c.170 and P.L.2002, c.58.

 

Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

1. Section 6 of P.L.1974, 170 (C.26:1A-9.1) is amended to read as follows:

6. Provisions in the State Sanitary Code in implementation of [this act] P.L.1947, c.177 (C.26:1A-1 et seq.), or provisions otherwise set forth in statute or regulation, which require the immunization of students at an elementary or secondary school or an institution of higher education, shall provide for an exemption [for pupils] from such mandatory immunization [if the parent or guardian of the pupil objects thereto in a written statement signed by the parent or guardian upon the ground that the proposed immunization interferes with the free exercise of the pupil's religious rights. This exemption] based upon one of the following:

a. a written statement submitted to the elementary or secondary school or the institution of higher education, as applicable, by a licensed physician indicating that the vaccine is medically contraindicated for a specific period of time and the reasons for the medical contraindication, based upon valid medical reasons as determined by regulation of the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services, which shall exempt the student from the vaccination for the stated period of time; or

b. a written statement submitted to the elementary or secondary school or the institution of higher education, as applicable, by the student, or the student's parent or guardian if the student is a minor, explaining how the administration of the vaccine conflicts with the bona fide religious tenets or practices of the student, or the parent or guardian, as appropriate; except that: a general philosophical or moral objection to the vaccination shall not be sufficient for an exemption on religious grounds; and an exemption on religious grounds may be suspended by the [State] Commissioner of Health and Senior Services during the existence of an emergency as determined by the [State Commissioner of Health] commissioner.

(cf: P.L.1974, c.150, s.6)

 

2. Section 4 of P.L.2002, c.58 (C.18A:61D-10) is amended to read as follows:

4. A student shall not be required to receive a vaccination pursuant to section 2 or 3 of [this act based upon one of the following:

a. a written statement submitted to the secondary school or institution of higher education, as applicable, by a licensed physician indicating that the vaccine is medically contraindicated for a specific period of time and the reasons for the medical contraindication, based upon valid medical reasons as determined by regulation of the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services, which shall exempt the student from the vaccination for the stated period of time; or

b. a written statement submitted to the secondary school or institution of higher education, as applicable, by the student, or the student's parent or guardian if the student is a minor, explaining how the administration of the vaccine conflicts with the bona fide religious tenets or practices of the student, or the parent or guardian, as appropriate; except that a general philosophical or moral objection to the vaccination shall not be sufficient for an exemption on religious grounds] P.L.2002, c.58 (C.18A:61D-9 or C.18A:40-21.1) if the student qualifies for an exemption as provided in section 6 of P.L.1974, 170 (C.26:1A-9.1).

(cf: P.L.2002, c.58, s.4)

 

3. This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

The purpose of this bill is to provide statutory clarification for the State policy governing exemptions from immunizations of students that are mandated by the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services by regulation or otherwise required by law.

The bill stipulates that provisions in the State Sanitary Code, or provisions otherwise set forth in statute or regulation, which require the immunization of students at an elementary or secondary school or an institution of higher education, are to provide for an exemption from such mandatory immunization based upon one of the following:

   a written statement submitted to the elementary or secondary school or the institution of higher education, as applicable, by a licensed physician indicating that the vaccine is medically contraindicated for a specific period of time and the reasons for the medical contraindication, based upon valid medical reasons as determined by regulation of the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services, which is to exempt the student from the vaccination for the stated period of time; or

   a written statement submitted to the elementary or secondary school or the institution of higher education, as applicable, by the student, or the student's parent or guardian if the student is a minor, explaining how the administration of the vaccine conflicts with the bona fide religious tenets or practices of the student, or the parent or guardian, as appropriate; except that: a general philosophical or moral objection to the vaccination is not sufficient for an exemption on religious grounds; and an exemption on religious grounds may be suspended by the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services during the existence of an emergency as determined by the commissioner.

The bill incorporates within section 6 of P.L.1974, 170 (C.26:1A-9.1) the language governing exemptions from mandatory immunizations against hepatitis B for students in high school and at institutions of higher education, which is set forth in section 4 of P.L.2002, c.58 (C.18A:61D-10), so as to apply these exemption provisions to all mandatory immunizations of students in elementary and secondary schools and at colleges and universities in New Jersey. This will provide for a clear and consistent regulatory approach to the issue of permitting exemptions from required vaccinations for all students at any educational level in the State, and will do so in a way that protects the children of New Jersey, and those with whom they come in contact, against serious communicable diseases, while allowing for appropriate exemptions based upon valid medical reasons and genuine religious objections.