Raleigh, N.C. — Senate sponsors of a controversial proposal to remove the religious exemption from immunization requirements say they're dropping the bill.
Senate Bill 346, sponsored by Sens. Jeff Tarte, R-Mecklenburg, Tamara Barringer, R-Wake, and Terry Van Duyn, D-Buncombe, would have required all children entering school in North Carolina to have had all vaccines on the schedule recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The only exemption granted would have been for medical reasons with a doctor's approval.
Sponsors cited concerns about the growing number of children whose parents were using the religious exemption to opt them out of vaccination requirements. But opponents decried the bill as governmental overreach and said the proposal violated parental rights as well as the constitutional right to free exercise of religion.
On Wednesday, the sponsors released a statement through the office of Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger.
"After hearing serious concerns about stricter vaccine and immunization requirements from our constituents and from citizens across the state, we have decided we will not move forward with Senate Bill 346. The vaccine bill is dead,” the statement said.
Tarte did not immediately respond to inquiries seeking more detail about the decision.