New Jersey Senators say natural immunity should be recognized to satisfy vaccination requirements

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Close up isolated image of a COVID 19 vaccination record card on a wooden desk. The card details the date, type and the dose number of administered vaccine and given to every person for record.

By Joe Pennacchio and Michael Testa,
Senators, New Jersey

Senator Joe Pennacchio and Senator Michael Testa have introduced legislation that could allow a person’s naturally developed immunity resulting from a prior COVID-19 infection to satisfy vaccination requirements imposed on workplaces, schools, or any other entity in the state.

“We don’t think anyone should be discriminated against due to their vaccination status, personal health decisions, or desire for medical privacy,” said Pennacchio (R-26). “However, to the extent that Governor Murphy and others have imposed burdensome vaccine mandates already, we believe those requirements should be based on science and recognize the significant protection and natural immunity that results from a person’s prior COVID-19 infection.”

The senators said a growing body of scientific evidence supports incorporating the consideration of natural immunity into public policy, which could impact nearly 1.2 million New Jerseyans who have had confirmed or likely cases of COVID-19, as reported by the state dashboard.

That was the case made in a recent Washington Post editorial by a professor from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine who expressed dismay that elected leaders and public health officials seem afraid to acknowledge the power of natural immunity, which is well proven by data.

In the piece, Dr. Marty Makary pointed to more than 15 significant studies demonstrating how “the emerging science suggests that natural immunity is as good as or better than vaccine-induced immunity.”

“Real people are being fired, kicked out of college, and discriminated against in various ways due to vaccine mandates imposed by Governor Murphy and others,” said Testa (R-1). “It’s modern segregation that’s not the least bit based on the latest science. Our bill is an effort to save more than a million New Jerseyans with natural immunity from unnecessary harm, discrimination, and compliance burden.”

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Pennachio and Testa’s new legislation, S-4136, would allow entities to accept a person’s verbal confirmation that they have natural immunity due to a prior COVID-19 infection to satisfy any vaccination or testing requirement that may be imposed as a condition of employment or to receive services, participate in activities, attend school or college, or gain admission to a place or venue.

The bill would not supersede any federal laws, rules, or orders requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test result to enter a facility.


Governor Murphy has issued mandates forcing hundreds of thousands of workers across New Jersey to demonstrate proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or provide negative COVID-19 test results on a frequent basis as a condition of employment.

He has signed a string of executive orders rapidly extending vaccine and test requirements to the entire State workforcepreschool and school personnelpublic and private health care workerschild care personnelstate contractors, and others.

Other public and private employers have followed the Murphy administration’s lead in imposing similar requirements on their workforces, while a number of public and private colleges have imposed strict vaccine mandates on their students.

Further, the Murphy administration and the Senate and Assembly Democrat majorities have enacted public access restrictions for the New Jersey State House in Trenton that will take effect on December 1.

Under the new policy, which Senate Republicans forcefully opposed, anyone not presenting proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 PCR test will be refused entry to the “people’s house.”

“If you’re one of the nearly 1.2 million New Jerseyans who has recovered from COVID, our bill says you might not have to provide proof of vaccination or a negative test to go to work, attend school, or enter a venue,” said Testa. “You would only have to tell those requesting proof of vaccination or a negative test that you’ve had COVID already.”

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“To be clear, our legislation isn’t an endorsement of vaccine passports or of any other mandates or restrictions on New Jerseyans,” added Pennacchio. “We just believe the gross failure to account for natural immunity in current policy is so egregious it couldn’t be ignored.”