New Jersey bill tightening religious exemptions for vaccines sparks outrage

TRENTON, New Jersey (WABC) -- There were big frustrations for some parents and students after the New Jersey state Assembly committee advanced a bill Thursday to make it harder to get religious exemptions for required immunizations.

In a packed room, many parents, grandparents and religious leaders pleaded with lawmakers over two hours of testimony to give the bill a thumbs down.

Once approved, there was outrage, with many shouting "Shame on you!" and "You're going to hell!" A young boy was seen giving lawmakers two middle fingers.

Right now, state official say more than 10,000 students, roughly 2 percent of New Jersey's school-age population, have a religious exemptions to vaccines.

Those include measles, mumps, whooping cough, chicken pox and polio.

State leaders say they want to protect children from outbreaks of communicable diseases that are vaccine preventable. Experts say vaccines are the most successful and cost-effective tool to prevent infection and death.

Opponents, on the other hand, say the bill is intrusive and a violation of their rights.

State lawmakers say under the bill, families who do not get their children immunized due to religious grounds will have to submit a notarized letter explaining how it violates their faith.

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