Is Gov. Murphy Considering New Vaccine Requirements For School Children?

Senator Holly Schepisi said the Murphy administration won’t admit it’s considering adopting new vaccine requirements for school children even after the New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) sent proposed rule changes and a solicitation for comments to “stakeholders” on May 8.

“The Murphy administration is looking to mandate COVID-19 vaccines, flu shots, and Gardasil in order for children to attend school through proposed rule changes,” said Schepisi (R-39). “The DOH reached out to supposed ‘stakeholders’ to share their proposal privately, while never hinting to members of the Legislature or parents that this might be in the works. It’s another shocking example of this administration trying to sneak through a major policy change that would further erode parental rights.”

The DOH sent a “Request for Stakeholder Input” on May 8 by email with the following message: “Please be advised that the New Jersey Department of Health is in the process of revising New Jersey Administrative Code Title 8 Chapter 57 which covers Communicable Diseases and related topics. The current rule is set to expire on February 8, 2024. To engage the relevant groups as early as possible, we are currently seeking the input of our stakeholders.”

The email included an attached presentation with rule changes that are under consideration, including to N.J.A.C. 8:57-4, which addresses the “Immunization of Pupils in School.”

The first listed recommendation in that section is to “align immunization requirements in this subchapter with the current ACIP recommendations.”

“ACIP” refers to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The current ACIP vaccine recommendations include COVID-19, Influenza, and HPV, none of which are currently mandated for children to attend school in New Jersey.

According to data from the American Academy of Pediatrics, just 46% of all New Jersey children ages 5 to 11 have been vaccinated for COVID-19, with virtually no new vaccinations in more than a year.

“It’s clear that the majority of New Jersey parents have legitimate concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Schepisi. “Any parents who wanted to get their children vaccinated for COVID-19 have already done so. The fact that virtually no kids have gotten the vaccine over the last year shows that many parents don’t want it. The recent science has proven that the shots’ effectiveness in children wane significantly after only several weeks and that the risk to children from the virus itself is very low. Many parents worry that the potential COVID vaccine side effects in these age groups could be more dangerous for their children than the disease it’s meant to prevent.”

Schepisi also noted that the HPV vaccine, commercially known as Gardasil, is controversial as well, with many parents questioning potential harmful side effects.

“Getting any of these shots should be a choice that parents make for their children after considering the recommendation of their doctors,” Schepisi added. “Using the blunt force of government to compel parents to make a choice between getting these particular vaccines for their children that they don’t want or taking them out of public school is just wrong. The Murphy administration knows parents will be outraged and that vulnerable Democratic members of the Legislature who are up for election in November won’t pass the controversial legislation mandating these vaccines, which is why they won’t even admit this is happening. If they say they’re not ‘considering it at this time,” that’s just code for ‘until after Election Day.’ If there truly is no intent to mandate these vaccines in order for children to attend school, I call upon the DOH to directly address their intentions to the parents of New Jersey.”

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