Since 2008, parents in New Jersey have needed only to submit a letter stating vaccines violate their religion in order for their kids to be exempt, without explaining how or why. Vaccines for nearly 9,000 NJ students in the 2013-14 academic year were waived for religious reasons, compared to only 1,641 in the 2005-06 school year. NJ Legislation A1931/S1147 clarifies the religious exemptions. Under this legislation, parents and caregivers will still be able to apply for religious exemption, however a notarized letter must explain "the nature of the person's religious tenet or practice that is implicated by the vaccination and how the administration of the vaccine would violate, contradict or otherwise be inconsistent with that tenet or practice" (bill S1147: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2014/Bills/S1500/1147_I1.PDF). They would also have to submit a signed statement by a New Jersey doctor that the person has received counseling about the risks and benefits of vaccinations. Schools would be prohibited from allowing an exemption unless these new requirements are followed.
Vaccines remain one of the single most important public health advancements of the 20th century. Life expectancy has dramatically increased from the early 20th century until now, due in large part to the reduction in mortality from infectious diseases by vaccination. The success of vaccination is under threat. As an example, this year alone there have been 178 cases of measles, a disease once declared eliminated in the U.S.
Children under one year, too young for the MMR vaccine, and others who are immunocompromised and cannot receive the vaccine are vulnerable and at risk for developing measles and complications ranging in severity from pneumonia to death. In order for vaccinations to remain effective, it is necessary to protect those in the population who are the most defenseless through herd immunity, or the general immunity to a pathogen in a population based on the acquired immunity to it by a high proportion of members over time. For this to occur, the background vaccination rate needs to be at least 95%. To protect the public’s health, it is imperative that vaccine rates must be kept above the herd immunity threshold. Failure to do so will result in more frequent, widespread disease outbreaks.
Scientific studies have proven that vaccines work, are effective, and safe. With respect to the MMR vaccine in particular, clinical studies have debunked any association with autism, after an initial assertion of a link that was based on a fraudulent study. Data from the CDC indicates that, among children born from 1994-2013, vaccinations will prevent over 700,000 deaths, and result in trillions of dollars in cost savings, both direct and societal. New Jersey’s children need your help and support. By signing this petition, you will declare your support for clarification on statutory exemptions from mandatory immunizations for students.
Support NJ Legislation A1931/S1147 clarifying religious exemptions for mandated infant and child immunizations.
New Jersey Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics started this petition with a single signature, and now has 1,212 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.