This week we faced another new challenge as part of our ongoing measles outbreak. A group of parents from the Green Meadow Waldorf School in Chestnut Ridge filed a lawsuit and sought an injunction against the orders imposed by our Commissioner of Health to keep their unvaccinated students out of school to protect them from contracting and spreading measles.
While it is a shame that these children have been unable to attend classes the liberty secured by the Constitution of the United States to every person within its jurisdiction does not import an absolute right in each person to be blind to the greater good. In the midst of a major measles outbreak, it does not include the liberty to expose our community or a child to a communicable disease that can seriously compromise health and potentially cause death.
We will stand for the greater good for the people of Rockland and defend our right to take the necessary steps, steps approved by health professionals, to ensure that the health of our community is not compromised.
Thankfully the Judge denied these parents request for an injunction and agreed that protecting the public health was the highest priority. I commend our Departments of Health and Law for their work in fighting both the measles outbreak and this lawsuit.
Here in Rockland we have seen first-hand the dangers and complications measles can cause. Right now, in Albany there are two pending pieces of legislation that I support that will help increase vaccinations across our state.
The first would give teens, aged 14 and older, the right to be vaccinated without parental consent. The anti-vaccination movement is a serious threat to public health, and giving teens the ability to protect themselves from preventable diseases is one more way we can fight back.
The second piece of legislation I feel to be critical to protecting the public health; it would eliminate all non-medical exemptions to vaccinations. Only children with legitimate medical issues should be exempted from vaccinations.
I call upon our State Legislators to carry this legislation forward and on the Governor to sign them into law.
According to the CDC, medical conditions that could prevent children from getting the vaccine include certain allergies, weakened immune systems or seizure disorders. I want to see a doctor put his name on a piece of paper and say, ‘it’s critical that this child not get vaccinated.’
My advice to parents is simple. If your child has a defined and critical medical condition that immunizations could worsen, a doctor confirmed, medical exemption makes sense. However, if you are mentally nebulous or an anti-vaxxer who follows the “expert” teachings of Hollywood actors where does it stop? Do you not vaccinate against polio also?
Do the right thing for your child and for the greater good of your community; have your child vaccinated now. With that, your child will be able to return to school. The time is long past to ensure that, absent a critical medical exemption approved by a doctor, every child entering school must be immunized against preventable diseases.