Update on the vaccine issue that is mounting towards a local legal battle. This past week, the City of New York declared a public health emergency because of a measles outbreak that had been escalating since the Fall of 2018. 2019 is turning out to be a record your for measles outbreaks, with 475 cases being reported in 19 States.
A vast majority of these have occurred in Brooklyn and in counties in Upstate NY and NJ with substantial ultra-Orthodox populations. In December, the health department had made an effort to contain the disease by ordering yeshivas and child care centers in affected neighborhoods to keep out all unvaccinated children. Many have ignored these orders, raising the legal question whether religious beliefs should be a bar to vaccination orders? While there are certain clauses in vaccination law, there are typically exemptions available to those who claim that they oppose vaccinations on religious grounds. 47 States, including New York, has such an exemption. Legislators argue that these exemptions are problematic, particularly since there is virtually no canonical basis for vaccine avoidance among the worlds’ major religions. Right now, there is a bill before the NYS Legislature that, if passed, would end religious exemptions to vaccines. Also, Mayor de Blasio announced this week that the city would issue violations and possibly fines to those who refused to vaccinate.
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