New York ends religious exemptions for vaccines amid measles outbreak

New York man I'm worried for my baby's safety

New York man I'm worried for my baby's safety

NY moved closer on Thursday to eliminating a religious exemption to vaccine requirements in the face of the nation's worst measles outbreak in decades.

"In the vast majority of our state, those religious exemptions do not affect the herd immunity levels and only interfere with a person's genuinely held religious belief", said Goodell, who added he is not opposed to vaccinations.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, signed the measure minutes after the final vote.

There are several major hotspots in and around NY - particularly in areas with large Orthodox Jewish communities such as Brooklyn, which has reported 588 cases since October, and Rockland, which has reported 266 - that sprang up last fall and threaten the nation´s "elimination status".

"We are facing an unprecedented public health crisis", said Sen. Brad Hoylman, D-New York City, said lawmakers needed to expedite the vote because of the public health crisis.

The new exemption will not change an existing state exemption given to children who can not have vaccines for medical reasons, such as a weakened immune system.

Dozens of legislators voted against the bill, arguing that banning religious exemptions risks violating the First Amendment, which protects religious freedom. After the vote in the Assembly, many of those watching from the gallery erupted in cries of "shame!"

Unvaccinated children without a medical exemption would be barred from schools and day care centers.

Supporters of the bill say they understand the objections on religious grounds but public health takes precedent in this case.

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Cuomo said earlier that while he respects the freedom of religion, he believes those concerns are "overwhelmed by the public health risk".

"The fact is that we have a movement against vaccines and we have to confront it with correct information", said Democratic Senator Shelley Mayer.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of new measles cases this year has exceeded 1,000 in 28 states - the greatest number of cases reported in the US since 1992 and since measles was declared eliminated in 2000.

Health authorities say the nation's single largest outbreak, more than 400 cases, occurred in the Orthodox Jewish communities in NY.

The New York Assembly narrowly passed the bill by a 77-53 vote.

The 26-member committee approved the bill by two votes - but after one Westchester lawmaker reversed his vote to allow the bill to advance to the entire Assembly, despite his personal opposition.

The law will not change an existing state exemption given to children who can not have vaccines for medical reasons, such as a weakened immune system.

New Yorkers are generally supportive of the move to end the exceptions. ME ended its religious exemption earlier this year. Liu suggested that the tenor of the debate on both sides could be more civil.

Once Cuomo signs the bill, as he has promised, it will take effect immediately. At 30 days, students will have to show that they've had the first dose of each required immunization.

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