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Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso (R-Holmdel). (Photo: Courtesy of the New Jersey State Assembly)

DiMaso bill would block colleges from requiring COVID vaccine

By Nikita Biryukov, May 10 2021 4:02 pm

Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso (R-Holmdel) introduced a bill that would bar higher education institutions receiving state funding from requiring students be vaccinated against COVID-19.

“It should be a choice, a decision made between the student and their doctor,” the assemblywoman said. “Several Universities and Colleges in NJ are requiring every on-campus and commuter students to get a vaccine that is experimental and not fully approved by the FDA.”

A growing number of New Jersey’s colleges and universities — including Rutgers, Princeton, Fairleigh Dickinson and Montclair, among others — have announced students must be inoculated against COVID-19 to return to campus next year.

The requirement isn’t at odds with existing policies. Rutgers, for example, has required its students be vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) for years.

But the requirements don’t quite line up one-to-one.

Unlike MMR vaccines, inoculants for COVID-19 are in administered under an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug administration.

“These students are in an exceptionally low-risk category. Interestingly, the Professors at these institutions will not be required to get the vaccine,” DiMaso said. “This is simply unacceptable.”

But the bill likely isn’t going anywhere. Gov. Phil Murphy has expressed support for Rutgers’ vaccine requirement, and it’s unlikely Democrats in the legislature would be willing to override a veto on the issue, even if they were prepared to back DiMaso’s bill. It’s not clear that they are.

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