NEW YORK—Senator Brad Hoylman (D/WF-Manhattan) and Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-Bronx) today announced legislation that would increase public access to immunization data, provide policy-makers with the data they need to ensure New York has the strongest possible immunization rates, and give families the information they need to ensure their children’s health would not be endangered by low immunization rates at their local schools.
The legislation would require all schools in New York to report specific data about their student body’s immunization rate against each disease for which immunization is required by law to the New York State Department of Health (DOH), and would require DOH to make a searchable database publicly available on its website that contains information about each school’s compliance. It would also require DOH to analyze trends in immunization rates and medical exemptions from immunization over time, in order to identify areas of the state that are vulnerable to the spread of communicable diseases.
Senator Hoylman said: “Parents have a right to know. As New York continues to recover from the worst measles outbreak in four decades, parents deserve to be informed about whether their child’s fellow students are up to date on all their required vaccines. The legislation I carry with Assemblyman Dinowitz will equip parents, policy-makers, and public health officials with accurate data that will help them understand whether a specific school is in compliance with immunization requirements. No parent should have to worry for the safety and health of their child when sending them to school.”
Assemblyman Dinowitz said: “As New York continues working to prevent another measles outbreak, it has become clear that there is simply insufficient data for policy-makers and public health experts to adequately measure how protected individual communities are against vaccine-preventable diseases. A common refrain is that what gets measured gets managed, and the natural converse of that is that what doesn’t get measured does not get managed. Through this legislation with State Senator Hoylman, we will empower parents and families as well as health experts to make informed decisions about how to best ensure widespread immunization in every community.”
The Hoylman-Dinowitz bill, S.6717/A.8635, amends section 2164 of the Public Health Law to require every school in New York to report certain information regarding the immunization status of the student body to the Department of Health. The bill also adds a new section 2169 to the Public Health Law that requires DOH to make certain information regarding schools’ compliance with state immunization requirements publicly available on the DOH website. This public data would include a searchable database of immunization rates, an analysis of statewide trends in immunization rates and exemptions over time, and analysis of areas vulnerable to the spread of vaccine-preventable communicable diseases. The legislation requires DOH to appropriately protect the confidentiality of students and schools when releasing this data.
Providing this information to public health officials and policy-makers will help ensure New York has the strongest immunization rates possible. It will also help parents (especially parents whose children are fighting cancer or are otherwise immuno-compromised) understand whether or not their child’s school is maintaining a safe rate of immunization against communicable diseases. Medical experts agree that populations with vaccination rates at or above 95% experience herd immunity, thereby significantly reducing the chance for secondary infections when a virus is introduced.
It is scientific fact that immunization against vaccine-preventable communicable diseases is a safe, effective tool to protect public health—particularly the health of immuno-compromised children and adults, cancer survivors, and pregnant women.