Anti-vaxxer protest
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Anti-Vaxx Parents Angry After New Jersey Senate Votes To End Religion Exemptions For Shots

Parents in New Jersey can no longer claim religious beliefs as an acceptable reason to decline to vaccinate their kids and still send them to public schools—and anti-vaxxers are not happy about it. According to NJ.com, hundreds of parents pleaded and raged at a state Senate panel that still voted to pass the bill barring religious exemption.

As cases of dangerous and preventable diseases have spiked every year since the anti-vaxxer “movement” began, local governments have begun to pull back on exemptions to vaccinations required before children enter public school. In New Jersey alone, 14,000 students were able to enter school without getting vaccinations for diseases like polio and measles. Whether or not these unvaccinated kids get sick, they weaken herd immunity and put the people who cannot get vaccinated for health reasons at increased risk.

Anti-vaxxer parents often claim that vaccinating their kids is somehow against a religion established many centuries before vaccines existed, but the New Jersey Senate didn’t buy the religious freedom excuse, passing the bill 6-4.

“Your right to practice religion freely does not include…exposing the community or a child to a communicable disease,” said President of the New Jersey chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics Alan Weller.

Anti-vaxxer parents paraded out their unvaccinated kids, having them say that God “made our immune systems perfect” and say how “heartbroken” they were that they might not be able to attend public school.

Pediatric oncologist Andrew Silverman, however, had his own kid to use as an example of why vaccines are necessary. The six-year-old patient has leukemia and therefore cannot be vaccinated, because as it turns out, not everyone’s immune system is perfect. Silverman had to advise the boy’s mother to keep him out of school because there was an unvaccinated student in his class.

“The oncologists in my practice agree, unvaccinated students are a major risk,” he said. “It’s not safe for him to attend school.”

After the Senate panel vote on Friday, the bill moved on to an assembly vote, where it easily passed by a 45-25 vote. It will now move to the full state Senate for a final vote.

New Jersey will likely join California, Maine, Mississippi, New York, and West Virginia as the sixth state to remove religious exemptions from its child vaccination laws.