(JTA) — A bill that would have ended a policy that allows New Jersey parents not to immunize their children because of religious beliefs and still enroll them in school stalled in the state Senate.
The Senate did not have enough votes to advance the measure to the General Assembly and the governor, so there was no vote on Monday — the last chance to pass bills before the end of the two-year legislative session.
The bill included an exemption for private schools, which could decide for themselves whether or not to accept unvaccinated students. The exemption was approved as an amendment on Thursday.
State Sen. Loretta Weinberg, a Democrat and a sponsor of the legislation, said the Senate would reintroduce a new version in the 2020-21 session.
Some 2.3 percent of kindergartners and 1.7 percent of sixth-graders in New Jersey used the religious exemption in the 2018-19 school year, according to the New Jersey Department of Health.
Agudath Israel of America was among the organizations that lobbied against the legislation.
A massive measles outbreak spread though New York City from October 2018 and ended in September 2019. New York is among four states that have limited or revoked religion-based vaccination exemptions, according to The New York Times.
“As immunization rates drop and outbreaks of preventable disease rise, I’m disappointed we were not able to vote on this vital legislation,” Weinberg said in a statement.
She added: “Though I understand the passion of those opposed, fundamentally, this is not a personal choice and in society it is the duty of healthy members to work together to protect those who cannot protect themselves.”
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NJ Senate avoids vote on bill to remove religious exemption from immunizations