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Life in New York City: Special Issue

January 11, 2015
Plain English Version

New York Court: No Vaccination, No School


A federal judge said New York could require parents to get vaccinations for their child. If they do not, the child will not be allowed to go to school. The court’s concern is that children, unprotected by vaccinations, may catch and spread diseases to other children.

Three parents from New York City said their religious rights were denied when their children were kept out of school. Their lawyer said they would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

She said, “I think the court will hear it. The issue is very timely. People are very concerned about vaccines and other drugs that are pushed on children.”

The New York federal court cited a Supreme Court decision from 1905. It said vaccinating was within the state’s  “police power.”

Parents in New York still can oppose getting the vaccine. They must be able to prove a “genuine and sincere” religious objection. School officials can choose to accept or reject the claim. If the school rejects the claim, officials can keep the child out of school.

The federal court said the state had the right to bar unvaccinated children. New York City said, “We are pleased with this decision. It is in the best interests of public health. It protects city school children and their families. It also protects the broader community in which we all live.”

Some states say parents can refuse to have their kids vaccinated. They must show a reason why. It could be a belief that it is wrong to force vaccinations. It does not have to be based on religion. New York does not accept “beliefs” as a reason to refuse vaccination.

Source: The New York Times January 7, 2015

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