Senator Carlucci Introduces Bill to Protect Children from the Measles at Summer Camp by Closing Dangerous Loopholes in the Law

David Carlucci

June 06, 2019

New bill requires children to be fully immunized before attending both regulated and unregulated summer camps

(Albany, NY) – In the wake of the worst Measles outbreak in 25 years, Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Westchester) joined the American Camp Association of New York and New Jersey and the New York State Camp Directors Association to introduce and call for the passage of legislation (S.6279), requiring all camps to only accept children who are properly immunized for measles, mumps, rubella, varicella, poliomyelitis, diphtheria, haemophilus, influenzae type b (Hib), pertussis, tetanus, pneumococcal disease, and hepatitis B. Only children with a medical exemption from a doctor would be exempt. 

“We are facing a public health crisis with at least 884 cases of Measles in the Hudson Valley and New York City, with the worst outbreaks in Rockland County and Brooklyn. We must protect tens of thousands of children who go to summer camp every year by closing dangerous loopholes in the law that leave it up to camps to decide if children should be vaccinated. Unregulated camps do not have to send any vaccination records to the State Department of Health, and this leaves children vulnerable and potentially in harm’s way,” said Senator David Carlucci.

“We applaud Senator Carlucci for doing the right thing by keeping children safe in regulated and unregulated camps and for bringing uniformity to camp vaccination policies,” said Susie Lupert with the American Camp Association of New York and New Jersey and the NYS Camp Directors Association.  

As the law stands, camps are allowed to set their own standards on life-saving vaccines, which means camps chose whether to require or recommend specific immunizations to campers. While regulated camps must maintain current immunization records for all children for the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), the NYSDOH cannot require a camp only admit children who are vaccinated or require specific vaccinations.

Scott Rosmarin, the camp director and owner of Rosmarins Day Camp in Monroe said, "I used to allow children with religious exemptions to attend our camp, but now due to the recent Measles outbreaks I do not want this disease to spread and potentially cause children to become sick. I support Senator Carlucci's legislation because all camps should be checking that children's vaccines are up to date. Right now, this is about the Measles, but it goes beyond that, what about Tetanus, if a child steps on a screw?  Some camps are not regulated by the State, and they are allowing children to be potentially put in harm’s way."

It is estimated that there are approximately 10,000 unregulated camps across the state that are not required to meet the same health and safety standards as regulated camps because they are not required to obtain a permit from the NYSDOH. These single purpose camps focus on one activity like a baseball or soccer camp, and these camps are extremely popular for children who specialize in a sport. Many parents have no idea that these camps do not have to submit vaccination records to the state, do not have to report when a camper is injured, and are not subject to inspection by the state.

Carlucci’s bill closes these loopholes and provides statewide uniformity to vaccine requirements for children’s camp attendance.  It requires that every child attending camp must be immunized for measles and a slew of other vaccines, in line with public schools. The JCC Rockland in West Nyack, New York has said they support Carlucci’s legislation.

“We're only halfway through 2019 and the CDC has confirmed over 1,000 cases of measles across the United States—the highest number in nearly 30 years,” said Senator Brad Hoylman who supports the bill. “At least 883 of those cases are in New York, each instance endangering the health and safety of our children, especially those with cancer and other life-threatening diseases. The CDC estimates that 1-2 deaths occur per 1000 cases. Governor Cuomo has backed the bill I carry with Assemblymember Dinowitz to end the non-medical exemption for vaccination across the state. With his support, we can get this done. The time to act is now. I’m grateful to Senator Carlucci for introducing this measure, and for his continued support in our fight to protect the public health of New Yorkers.”

“Despite the false propaganda being spewed by anti-vaxxers questioning the efficacy of vaccines, there is overwhelming consensus in the scientific community that vaccination is safe and effective at limiting outbreaks of communicable diseases,” said Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz who supports the bill. “Vaccines undergo strict testing before they ever reach a doctor’s office and they are continually monitored and improved in order to address changes in a bacteria or virus and adverse side effects that may emerge. It is imperative that as many people who are medically able to get vaccinated do so in order to protect all members of our community.”

If Carlucci’s bill passes the full legislature and is signed into law, it will take effect on October 1, 2019.