Some schools in New York have reportedly begun to send students home if they haven’t received all required vaccinations after legislation recently went into effect ending religious exemptions for vaccines.
According to BuzzFeed News, students were barred from attending class in some schools last week in response to a mandate issued earlier this year that prohibited schools in the state from “permitting any child to be admitted to such school, or to attend such school, in excess of 14 days without sufficient evidence that the child has received all age appropriate required vaccinations.”
The schools that removed students had reportedly reached the 14-day period in the new year.
The mandate was announced by the state’s health and education agencies in June, shortly after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed legislation into law that ended religious exemptions for vaccines, which state officials told BuzzFeed News allowed 26,217 children to attend schools unvaccinated in the state in 2017 and 2018.
The law’s passage arrived after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that over 1,000 cases of measles had been reported in 28 states within a six-month span earlier this year, marking the country’s worst outbreak of the disease in more than two decades.
Earlier this month, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said that the city had reported 654 measles cases between September 2018 and August 2019.
“Community transmission was declared over on September 3,” the department said at the time. “During the outbreak, 33,805 doses of the MMR vaccine were administered to people younger than 19 years old in Williamsburg and Borough Park.”
At the time of the law’s passage, hundreds of anti-vaccination advocates protested the measure, accusing the state of infringing on its religious freedoms.
Cuomo said then that while he understood and respected freedom of religion, the state’s “first job is to protect the public health and by signing this measure into law, we will help prevent further transmissions and stop this outbreak right in its tracks.”
“The science is crystal clear: Vaccines are safe, effective and the best way to keep our children safe. This administration has taken aggressive action to contain the measles outbreak, but given its scale, additional steps are needed to end this public health crisis,” Cuomo also said in the statement.
However, a number of parents have continued to take issue with the legislation.
According to BuzzFeed News, parents held a demonstration outside of an elementary school in Long Island last Tuesday after picking up their children upon the end of the 14-day grace period.
One parent, Paris Pappas, told Newsday she plans to homeschool her three children — who are between the ages of 6 and 14 — and called the ban “absolute hell.”
“We’re just watching everybody else’s school life go on, and my life has stopped, basically,” she said.
More parents also said they plan to homeschool their kids in response to the law’s passage rather their vaccinate their children.