TRENTON – With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention inching toward recommending that school children be required to get COVID vaccines, a state senator wants to block Gov. Phil Murphy's administration from adopting that rule in New Jersey.

An advisory committee at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last Thursday recommended that the COVID vaccine be added to the list of immunizations recommended for school kids starting next year.

The full CDC will make any changes to its guidance in early 2023. But in the end, states decide what is required for school attendance, not the federal government.

Arihana Macias, 7, gets a compress after reviving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children five to 12 years at a Dallas County Health and Human vaccination site in Mesquite, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021. (AP Photo/LM Otero/Seth Wenig, File)
(AP Photo/LM Otero/Seth Wenig, File)
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Proposal to ban vaccine mandate

Sen. Kristin Corrado, R-Passaic, on Thursday proposed legislation (S3267) that would prohibit mandatory vaccination against COVID-19 as a condition for attending public K-12 schools.

“Parents across the state share my concerns about the administration’s intentions,” Corrado said. “This bill makes it clear that we don’t want Trenton bureaucrats bullying New Jersey families with more medical demands.”

The Murphy administration hasn’t said what it intends to do, if the full CDC winds up recommending it.

"At this time, COVID-19 vaccination is not a requirement for school attendance in New Jersey," said Dalya Ewais, director of communications for the state Department of Health. "However, the New Jersey Department of Health strongly recommends that everyone should be up-to-date with age-appropriate vaccinations, per the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommendations."

Virus Outbreak Kids Vaccines New York
AP
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Child COVID vaccine rates

Kids have been getting vaccines at slower rates than older New Jerseyans, with the lowest rates among the youngest residents, according to CDC data.

  • Under age 2, who became eligible in June: 5.4% one shot, 2.7% complete dose
  • Ages 2 to 4, eligible since June: 9.2% one shot, 4.8% complete dose
  • Ages 5 to 11, eligible since November 2021: 47.2% one shot, 40% complete dose, 12.9% one booster
  • Ages 12 to 17: 85.5% one shot, 74.3% complete dose, 32.5% one booster

“Clearly, parents object to being told by the governor or anyone else that they must immunize their children with a shot that doesn’t appear to be especially effective at preventing the virus,” Corrado said.

Seventeen of the 34,896 deaths in New Jersey associated with COVID have been children, including 11 younger than 5 years old and six between the ages of 5 and 17, according to state Department of Health data.

What about college students?

Corrado and three other lawmakers sponsor a similar bill that would prohibit colleges and universities from requiring students to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

That bill followed one sponsored by four other lawmakers that would mandate COVID-19 vaccines for students, staff and others on college campuses.

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Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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