The New Jersey legislature came very close to enacting a law, S. 2173, that would end religious or philosophical exemptions parents use to opt-out of vaccinating their children who attend state schools. Unfortunately, according to The New York Times, shortly after S. 2173 was passed by the State Assembly, it stumbled in the New Jersey State Senate in which there were not enough votes to pass it.
While opponents cheered the bill’s potential demise, the Senate President has vowed to bring it up again saying: We’re not walking away from it. The Times states the bill can be reconsidered before the legislature concludes business for the year on January 13th. While the issue of mandatory vaccinations for kids who attend schools is controversial, it really shouldn’t be when one looks at obvious examples where it works.
Four years ago, The Washington Post ran a story revealing two Republican states with vaccine laws that mirror what New Jersey seeks to accomplish: Mississippi and West Virginia. According to The Post, during the late 70’s, a lawsuit was initiated in Mississippi attempting to add exemptions via litigation citing First Amendment concerns, which the state’s Supreme Court rejected.
Attempts to change West Virginia’s vaccine statutes have been tried but have gone nowhere. Best of all, thanks to both state’s strong immunization laws, there have not been any outbreaks of measles or whooping cough in either state’s schools. WaPo also points out:
In the early 1970s, the CDC found that states with school vaccine mandates had about half the measles rate of states without the laws. By 1980, every state had a law on its books. But over the years, more and more states added exemptions.
Unfortunately, the vaccine debate has the potential to devolve into both sides becoming more dogmatic in which the opposing side is than the proponents. Ending these vaccine exemptions would not bode well for so-called vaccine choice groups because mandatory vaccinations would end their clout in areas where they are influential. The flip side of ending exemptions would be a heightened resentment on the part of opponents against the so-called medical establishment including a potential increased paranoia of the alleged corruption at agencies such as the CDC.
None the less, if there is any outrage to be directed, it should be at environmentalists who are ultimately the source of the disinformation about vaccines that groups, like the New Jersey Coalition for Vaccine Choice, use as legitimate information. This puts people’s lives (especially children) at risk. Consequently, anti-vaccine groups are environmentalist fronts since they knowingly further vaccine disinformation that was influenced or authored by environmentalists like Robert Kennedy, Jr.
PHOTO CREDIT: A cartoon from a December 1894 anti-vaccination publication