Posted by 18 June 2019
New York is experiencing its worst measles outbreak in decades. In response, the state will no longer allow parents to cite their religious beliefs to refuse meeting vaccination requirements for school enrollment.
Under a bill signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, parents wishing to enroll their children in school can no longer say their religious beliefs preclude them from vaccination in order to gain an exemption from the mandate. Children who have medical conditions that do not allow them to be vaccinated could still receive an exemption. Children who are home schooled do not have to be vaccinated.
Many of the measles cases in New York are centered in the Orthodox Jewish community, many of whose members shun vaccinations. Some Orthodox Jewish leaders protested this new law, saying it will infringe upon their religious beliefs. Backers of the bill said that there is no religious right to spread diseases to others.
Public health advocates have been pushing to make it more difficult for parents to opt out of the vaccination schedule. They point to the rising cases of measles and other diseases that can be stopped by vaccines, saying that parents are using loopholes to avoid proven ways to stop these outbreaks. Some parents are pushing back, citing health or moral concerns as reasons to avoid vaccinating their children.
In recent years, both California and Maine have revoked their religious exemptions to vaccine mandates, joining Mississippi and West Virginia – and now New York – as the only states without this exemption.
Do you think that parents should be able to claim religious reasons to avoid vaccinating their children prior to school enrollment?