New York eliminates the religious exemption to vaccine requirements for schoolchildren

The United States of America is currently facing the worst measles outbreak in decades. More than 1,000 cases of measles in at least 13 outbreaks have been diagnosed in the country this year, with the majority in New York.

Yesterday New York eliminated the religious exemption to vaccine requirements for schoolchildren.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) signed the legislation into law Thursday evening after it passed in the state’s Senate and Assembly, ending years of gridlock over the issue.

“We’re putting science ahead of misinformation about vaccines and standing up for the rights of immunocompromised children and adults, pregnant women and infants who can’t be vaccinated through no fault of their own,” state Sen. Brad Hoylman said in a statement.

“I’m not aware of anything in the Torah, the Bible, the Koran or anything else that suggests you should not get vaccinated,” said Bronx Democrat Jeffrey Dinowitz, the bill’s Assembly sponsor. “If you choose to not vaccinate your child, therefore potentially endangering other children ... then you’re the one choosing not to send your children to school.”
The law gives unvaccinated students up to 30 days to show they’ve started their required immunizations.

Most of the measles cases have largely stemmed from the ultra-Orthodox Jewish population in Brooklyn, and to a lesser extent, Rockland County, which anti-vaccine groups have had some success at targeting with misinformation. Many of these activists claim that vaccines cause autism, a link disproved repeatedly by scientists and medical experts.

Measles, a highly contagious and potentially life-threatening disease, was thought to have been eliminated in 2000, due to the success of decades-long campaigns to get people vaccinated.

California removed personal belief vaccine exemptions for children in both public and private schools in 2015, after a measles outbreak at Disneyland sickened 147 people and spread across the U.S. and into Canada. Maine ended its religious exemption earlier this year.

Mississippi and West Virginia also do not allow religious exemptions.

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