NY removes non-medical exemptions for school vaccinations
State seeks to protect public health in midst of measles outbreak
Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Thursday signed legislation sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz that removes non-medical exemptions from school vaccination requirements for children.
The United States is currently experiencing the worst outbreak of measles in more than 25 years, with outbreaks in pockets of New York primarily driving the crisis. As a result of non-medical vaccination exemptions, many communities across New York have unacceptably low rates of vaccination, and those unvaccinated children can often attend school where they may spread the disease to other unvaccinated students. This new law will help protect the public amid this ongoing outbreak.
“The science is crystal clear: Vaccines are safe, effective and the best way to keep our children safe. This administration has taken aggressive action to contain the measles outbreak, but given its scale, additional steps are needed to end this public health crisis,” Governor Cuomo said. “While I understand and respect freedom of religion, our first job is to protect the public health and by signing this measure into law, we will help prevent further transmissions and stop this outbreak right in its tracks.”
Although the State can claim high immunization rates overall, preventable diseases like measles remain a public health threat when administrative loopholes allow children to go unvaccinated, carrying the potential to harm communities—and especially our most vulnerable residents—throughout the state.
Statewide, 96 percent of school-age children have been inoculated against measles, mumps and rubella, with the “MMR” vaccine, but a measles outbreak continues to affect communities in several parts of the state where the rate is lower. New York State currently allows both medical and religious exemptions to the MMR and other vaccines for students attending school.
New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, “Governor Cuomo’s leadership has continually raised the standard of public health and well-being across New York State. Immunizations give children the best protection from serious childhood diseases and are safe and effective. The efforts taken today stand in stark contrast to the disturbing anti-vaccination trends nationwide and underscore New York’s commitment to protecting public health.”