NY ends religious exemptions to vaccination mandates

Yancey Roy

June 13, 2019

Originally published in Newsday on June 13, 2019.

SD 6, Senator Thomas, Vaccination, Religious Exemption

ALBANY — The state Legislature voted Thursday to abolish a religious exemption to vaccine requirements, following the worst measles outbreak in the nation in 27 years.

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Defenders of the exemption suggested ending it would violate the right to freedom of religion. However, federal court decisions dating back to 1905 have upheld laws requiring children to be vaccinated before they can attend school, saying compulsory vaccinations don’t violate constitutional rights.

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"Choosing not to vaccinate without a legitimate medical reason is an affront to the rights of children and parents across New York State,” Sen. Kevin Thomas (D-Levittown) countered. “Children have a right to attend our schools without being exposed to preventable disease. Parents have a right to feel safe sending their children to child care, camp, and other group activities without fear of putting the health of their families at risk.”