HOLMDEL, NJ - It's getting dramatic in Trenton.
When it comes to vaccinations in public schools, the lines cross political parties and political boundaries. From Republican to Democrat and from Monmouth to Camden, it's getting ugly.
On Monday, January 13th, the New Jersey Senate has a critical vote planned to strip religious exemptions from public school vaccinations. The vote had been struggling, according to reports. It just didn't have enough votes.The vote, breaking down on political lines mostly, came up short. Eventually, however, it found a savior willing to take a stand after listening to both sides of the argument. That is Senator Declan O'Scanlon (R-13). He shares an office with Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso in Holmdel. O'Scanlon sought approval for certain amendments to further consider his support.
The amendments include allowing private schools to accept unvaccinated students as well as accommodations for families that have documented prior negative medical experiences with vaccines. The Democrats who controlled the Senate agreed to the changes. With the amendment in hand, he has indicated he would vote for it. Then came Sunday and Assemblyman Jamal Holly. NJ State Assemblyman Jamal Holly, representing
Roselle, Elizabeth, Union & Hillside, ripped into the new version. He called it discriminatory because families who can afford to pay for private tuition may choose to do so to avoid the mandate.
"Senator O'Scanlon's vaccine amendments cuts into the fiber of all we have accomplished. To suggest that we begin to segregate our students is an abomination of what every righteous leader should be standing up against. I've been totally against this bill from day one and now I am even more compelled to oppose. This includes bringing along my fellow Members of the Assembly to vote against this discriminatory, unconstitutional, and an over reach of government. With these new amendments, I can guarantee that a majority, if not all of the African American Members of the Assembly will not be voting in support of this bill that discriminates based on wealth, address and ability to afford private education." wrote Holly on his facebook account.
The issue has certainly animated New Jersey politics. O'Scanlon's support has gone national - as seen in Politico
But that news is only a part of the story. While this profound disagreement plays out, a little known Assemblywoman, Pamela Lampitt out of Camden New Jersey, has her own plan for public school children. Mandatory Gardasil. This little known legislation may be the most controversial of all. To be clear, O'Scanlon does not support this separate proposal. It is being pushed by a Camden legislator and other states have adopted similar legislation. So it has some history of being pushed through statehouses.
Most folks thinks of mumps, rubella, polio and the like in regard to mandatory vaccinations for public school. Many are not aware of the additional conversation of Gardasil for 6th graders. Lampitt has legislation drafted and ready to add a new vaccination entirely, for human papilloma virus (HPV), which can lead to genital warts and cancer.
The basic language is as follows:
ASSEMBLY, No. 1847
Requires human papillomavirus vaccinations for students in grades six through 12.
"This bill stipulates that the Commissioner of Health would require the immunization of a child for human papilloma virus (HPV) as a condition of enrollment in grades six through 12 or comparable age level for special education programs.
Beginning with the 2016-2017 school year, a principal, director, or other person in charge of a public or private school in this State would not knowingly admit or retain in grades six through 12, or comparable age level for special education programs, a child whose parent or guardian did not submit acceptable evidence of the child's immunization for HPV prior to or during enrollment in sixth grade.
The bill also provides that a student would be exempt from receiving the vaccination if a written statement is submitted to the public or private school: 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; or by the student or, if the student is a minor, by the student's parent or guardian, explaining how the vaccination conflicts with the bona fide religious tenets or practices of the student or the parent or guardian, as appropriate.
Under the bill's provisions, a general philosophical or moral objection to the vaccination would not be sufficient grounds for a religious exemption to the student receiving the vaccination."
O'Scanlon stated to TAPinto Holmdel, that he does not support including Gardasil as a mandatory vaccination. "I have and will vehemently oppose any effort to add Gardasil or any other vaccine that doesn't defend against casually communicable diseases." said O'Scanlon in an email to this publication.
In regard to Assemblyman Holly, O'Scanlon replied, "Assemblyman Holly is entitled to his position but I must correct any suggestion that it’s my intention to segregate anyone. My motivation for drawing the line of this mandate at public schools was inspired by two things. First, I simply don’t believe it should be up to government to dictate to private owners of businesses or instructions who they do business with or how they run their operations.
Second, I was asked by a person who doesn’t believe in vaccinations to permit her, and others who share her beliefs, to create or take advantage of other, private options to provide daycare and schooling to their unvaccinated children.
It’s that simple. The original bill provided no such options. The only recourse would have been to forego daycare and to home school non-vaccinated children.
Let’s be absolutely clear, the science is overwhelming, vaccines save lives. Children’s lives. As our solid, high levels of vaccination rates have fallen the occurrence of outbreaks of preventable, potentially life-altering or even deadly diseases has increased. If Assemblyman Holly, or any other legislator, is successful in his effort to derail this bill he/they must accept responsibility for the results of their actions. It is not inconceivable that those results may include needless, preventable deaths of children. And please don’t try to compare the infinitesimally smaller risk of vaccines to the dramatically greater risk of failure to maintain a high level of vaccination. Lastly, it isn’t just the optionally non-vaccinated that are at risk. The elderly, the very young, the immunocompromised who can’t be vaccinated, the 1 in 10 children who are vaccinated who don’t develop immunity and wide swaths of the population whose immunity has lessoned over time. It will be these potentially permanently impacted lives that Assemblyman Holly will have to answer for."
Readers can follow the NJ Legislature HERE.