New York State’s New Mandatory Vaccination Law Leaves Some Parents Seeking Answers

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Publish Date:
July 12, 2019
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Summary

A new law in New York State that eliminates exemptions from vaccinations has left some parents in a quandary. As the start of a new school year inches closer, parents who oppose vaccinations for their children due to religious beliefs, fear of side effects or other reasons, are questioning both the legality of the new law and whether there are any alternatives to mandatory vaccinations.

A recent measles outbreak in New York State that affected more than 1,000 individuals—mostly unimmunized children—and was the largest outbreak of measles in the state since 1991, prompted the passage of legislation (S.2994A/A.2371) that removes non-medical exemptions from school vaccination requirements for children.

The debate over the parents’ rights to make decisions on matters such as health care for children continues. “Parents who object to vaccinations, for either religious or philosophical reasons, have strong lobbies in many states. They receive support from legislators who see decisions regarding health care, like decisions regarding schooling, as an aspect of parental rights,” said Stanford Law Professor Michael S. Wald. “However, in most states, exemptions from vaccination laws can be overridden if the failure to vaccinate creates a substantial risk of serious harm to public health. For example, in the event of an outbreak of a communicable disease a state may order that a child be vaccinated.”

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