Vaccine exemption bill sparks concerns from anti-vaccine supporters

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TRENTON -

A bill that aims to tighten restrictions on religious exemptions to mandatory vaccines is causing some who are against vaccines to be concerned.

Bill A-3818 would require a religious exemption applicant to provide a notarized letter. The letter would have to explain why the vaccines pose a religious conflict, along with a statement that the beliefs are not a product of that person’s “concerns about the safety of vaccines.”

Activist Amy Galarowicz says that the bill is an attack on her religious freedom. The Caldwell resident says that she has never regretted applying for exemptions for her two sons and that as a Christian, she objects to the use of aborted fetal tissue used in developing vaccines.

“I truly believe that God made our bodies so wonderfully, so fearfully. Human beings, we‘ve gotten a little ahead of ourselves,” Galarowicz says.

Galarowicz says that her objections over vaccines started after her first son received a rotavirus vaccine, which was taken off the market.

“Is it insincere? Is it sincere? Who are we to say?” she asks. “And that’s a big problem with this bill, is who says?”

There were more than 10,000 New Jersey students with religious exemptions from vaccines last year, according to state immunization reports. Pediatricians have noted the rising cases of measles and whooping cough nationally. They say that vaccines are safe.

Little Falls resident Maria Cordonnier says that she remembers her sister being quarantined for polio many years ago.

“As a young child, my older sister did have polio,” she says. “I only wish there was a vaccine for polio when she was a child.”

New Jersey Assemblyman Herb Conway, who is sponsoring the bill, says it will provide a "consistent" approach to vaccinations for students and that it's "the right and moral thing to do."

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