ASSEMBLY, No. 169

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

217th LEGISLATURE

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2016 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman† RALPH R. CAPUTO

District 28 (Essex)

Assemblywoman† CLEOPATRA G. TUCKER

District 28 (Essex)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

†††† Permits exemption from mandatory immunization for students in writing for any reason.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

†††† Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel.

††


An Act concerning vaccinations for students and amending P.L.1974, c.150, P.L.1986, c.134, P.L.2004, c.138, P.L.2002, c.58, and P.L.2003, c.284.†

 

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

 

†††† 1.††† Section 6 of P.L.1974, c.150 (C.26:1A-9.1) is amended to read as follows:

†††† 6.††† [Provisions in] a.† As used in this section:

†††† "Mandatory immunization" means a vaccination required by statute or regulation as a condition for school attendance.

†††† "School" means a public or private institution of higher education, public or private school, kindergarten, nursery school, preschool, or child care facility in this State.

†††† "Student" means a person attending a public or private institution of higher education, public or private school, kindergarten, nursery school, preschool, or child care facility in this State.

†††† b.††† Notwithstanding the provisions of any other statute or regulation to the contrary, the provisions of the State Sanitary Code in the implementation of this act shall provide for the exemption [for pupils] of a student from mandatory immunization if the†† student, or the parent or guardian of the [pupil] student if the student is a minor, 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] to the immunization in writing, for any reason, on a form, to be signed by that individual, which is provided pursuant to subsection e. of this section.† This exemption 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.

†††† c.†††† The provisions of this section shall not be construed to affect the authority of the commissioner to exclude a student from school during a vaccine-preventable disease outbreak or threatened outbreak as determined by the commissioner or the commissionerís designee.

†††† d.††† Pursuant to the provisions of R.S.26:4-6, a school official may prohibit the attendance of a student who has been granted an exemption pursuant to subsection b. of this section and is under a school official's control, on account of the prevalence of a communicable disease, or to prevent the spread of a communicable disease.† The school official may also specify the duration of time that the student with an exemption must remain away from school.

†††† e.†††† The commissioner shall develop a form, which may be downloaded from the Internet website of the Department of Health and Senior Services, for use by a student, or the parent or guardian of the student if the student is a minor, who wishes to state that personís objection to immunization pursuant to this section; and each school shall make that form available to parents, guardians, and adult students.† A school shall retain the completed form and furnish a copy to the parent, guardian, or adult student, as applicable.

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

 

†††† 2.††† Section 4 of P.L.1986, c.134 (C.26:2N-4) is amended as follows:

†††† 4.††† A child shall not be required to receive a pertussis vaccine as a condition for admission to a public or private school if:

†††† a.†††† the child's health care provider states in writing that the vaccine is medically contraindicated pursuant to subsection b. (1) of section 2 of this act and the reasons for the medical contradictions; or

†††† b.††† the childís parent or guardian objects to the administration of the vaccine in accordance with the provisions of section 6 of P.L.1974, c.150 (C.26:1A-9.1).

(cf: P.L.1986, c.134, s.4)

 

†††† 3.††† Section 6 of P.L.2004, c.138 (C.26:4-136) is amended as follows:

†††† 6.††† The provisions of this act shall not be construed to affect the obligation of any person, or the person's parent or legal guardian if the person is a minor, to comply with any immunization requirement, or the right of that person, parent or legal guardian to request an exemption from the immunization requirement [on the grounds that an immunization is medically contraindicated or that the requirement conflicts with the religious tenets or practices of the person, parent or legal guardian], as otherwise [established] provided by statute or by regulation of the department.

(cf: P.L.2004, c.138, s.6)

 

†††† 4.††† 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] P.L.2002, c.58 (C.18A:61D-9 or C.18A:40-21.1) 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] objection to the administration of the vaccine for any reason, 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] on a form to be signed by that individual, which is provided pursuant to section 6 of P.L.1974, c.150 (C.26:1A-9.1).††

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

 

†††† 5.††† Section 3 of P.L.2003, c.284 (C.18A:62-15.2) is amended to read as follows:

†††† 3.††† a.† A student shall not be required to receive a vaccination pursuant to subsection a. of section 2 of [this act] P.L.2003, c.284 (C.18A:62-15.1) based upon one of the following:

†††† (1)†† a written statement submitted to the institution of higher education 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

†††† (2)†† a written [statement] objection to the administration of the vaccine for any reason, submitted to the institution of higher education 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] on a form to be signed by that individual, which is provided pursuant to section 6 of P.L.1974, c.150 (C.26:1A-9.1).

†††† b.††† In the event of an actual or threatened outbreak of meningitis at a public or private institution of higher education in this State, the institution may exclude from attendance a student who has been exempted from the vaccination requirement of this act pursuant to subsection a. of this section, as determined by the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services.

(cf: P.L.2003, c.284, s.3)

 

†††† 6.††† The Commissioner of Health and Senior Services shall, pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), adopt rules and regulations to effectuate the purposes of this act.

 

†††† 7.††† This act shall take effect on the 120th day following enactment, but the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services may take such anticipatory administrative action in advance thereof as shall be necessary for the implementation of the act.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

†††† This bill expands the right of individuals to object to the administration of vaccines that are mandated under State statute or regulations.

†††† Currently, State law only permits an exemption from required immunizations when: a vaccine is medically contraindicated, as stated in writing by a personís health care provider; or interferes with the free exercise of religious rights, as when a person, or the personís parent or guardian if the person is a minor, states in writing that administration of a vaccine would conflict with their bona fide religious tenets or practices.† This bill will significantly broaden the basis on which an individual may be exempted from a required immunization, in recognition of increasingly widespread concerns in regard to possible evidence of vaccine-related adverse health consequences (such as autism spectrum disorder) for young children who are subject to an ever-increasing number of mandatory vaccinations.

†††† The bill provides specifically as follows:

    The bill amends section 6 of P.L.1974, c.150 (C.26:1A-9.1) to require that the regulations incorporated in the State Sanitary Code pursuant to Title 26 of the Revised Statutes provide for the exemption of a student from mandatory immunization if the student, or the parent or guardian of the student if the student is a minor, objects to the immunization in writing, for any reason, on a form, to be signed by that individual, which is provided pursuant to the bill.

    This exemption may be suspended by the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services during the existence of an emergency as determined by the commissioner.

    The provisions of the bill are not to be construed to affect the authority of the commissioner to exclude a student from school during a vaccine-preventable disease outbreak or threatened outbreak as determined by the commissioner or the commissionerís designee.

    Pursuant to the provisions of R.S.26:4-6, a school official may prohibit the attendance of a student who has been granted an exemption pursuant to this bill and is under a school official's control, on account of the prevalence of a communicable disease, or to prevent the spread of a communicable disease.† The school official may also specify the duration of time that the student with an exemption must remain away from school.

    The commissioner is to develop a form, which may be downloaded from the Internet website of the Department of Health and Senior Services, for use by a student, or the parent or guardian of the student if the student is a minor, who wishes to state that personís objection to immunization pursuant to the bill; and each school is to make that form available to parents, guardians, and adult students.† A school will retain the completed form and furnish a copy to the parent, guardian, or adult student, as applicable.

    The bill defines:

†††† --† "mandatory immunization" to mean a vaccination required by statute or regulation as a condition for school attendance;

†††† --† "school" to mean a public or private institution of higher education, public or private school, kindergarten, nursery school, preschool, or child care facility in this State; and

†††† --† "student" to mean a person attending a public or private institution of higher education, public or private school, kindergarten, nursery school, preschool, or child care facility in this State.

    The bill revises other statutes governing required immunizations to reflect the above provisions, including:

†††† --† P.L.1986, c.134 (C.26:2N-1 et seq.), concerning pertussis immunization, which is required as a condition of attendance at elementary schools (pursuant to N.J.A.C.8:57-4.10);

†††† --† P.L.2004, c.138 (C.26:4-131 et seq.), concerning the Statewide Immunization Registry established pursuant to that law;

†††† --† P.L.2002, c.58 (C.18A:61D-8 et al.), concerning hepatitis B immunization as a condition of enrollment in high school and at an institution of higher education in this State; and

†††† --† P.L.2003, c.284 (C.18A:62-15.1 et seq.), concerning meningococcal vaccination as a condition of enrollment at an institution of higher education in this State.

The bill takes effect on the 120th day after enactment, but authorizes the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services to take anticipatory administrative action in advance as necessary for its implementation.