New Jersey parents and lawmakers slam mandatory flu shots for students

A bill introduced in the New Jersey legislature last August requiring flu immunization for students before they can enroll in educational institutions drew flak from concerned parents and Republican lawmakers. The proposal lets officials “more promptly distinguish whether a COVID-19 or influenza outbreak is occurring” in schools, given that the symptoms of both diseases are similar.

However, the bill allows exemptions on medical conditions or religious grounds—but “a general philosophical or moral objection to the vaccination” did not qualify as a reason to opt-out. In protest of this proposed bill, hundreds of parents and children gathered Sept. 24 in front of the State House in Trenton.

“To mandate [vaccination] on all children for the public education that they’re constitutionally entitled to seem like a gross violation of our human rights and bodily sovereignty,” protest organizer Stephanie Locricchio said. The founder of the Wellness Warriors Revolution parental group added that giving lawmakers to decide children must get a flu shot is “overreach.”

“The government has no business making medical decisions for our bodies and our children,” protest co-organizer and New Jersey for Medical Freedom founder Ayla Wolf said. She added that the bill requiring flu shots would serve as a precedent to other mandatory vaccines.

Meanwhile, two Republican lawmakers in the State Assembly introduced Sept. 17 a bill forbidding government agencies and schools from requiring flu vaccinations for anyone 18 years old or younger. Assemblyman Gerry Scharfenberger, one of the bill’s authors, said his proposal only prevents the government from deciding on flu vaccinations—an issue parents should be deciding on.

According to the assemblyman, if the government is allowed to mandate vaccinations for seasonal flu, then nothing will stop it from mandating other vaccines—having the same idea as Wolf. He added that his “pro-personal choice” bill would stop the mandatory immunization proposal; if signed into law, Scharfenberger’s bill will supersede the one introduced in August….

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