Custody and Vaccination: New Case in New York City

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Child Custody on Monday, June 30, 2014.

Florida allows exemptions from vaccinating your child if it conflicts with your religious beliefs. Could a court bar your child from school if legally unvaccinated?

New York just decided that case. As the New York Times reports:

A federal judge recently upheld New York City’s policy, which bars unvaccinated children from public schools when another student has a vaccine-preventable disease.

Two of the families in the New York lawsuit – who had received religious exemptions – challenged the city’s policy on barring their children, saying it amounted to a violation of their right to religious freedom equal protection.

“Disease is pestilence and pestilence is from the devil. The devil is germs and disease, which is cancer and any of those things that can take you down. But if you trust in the Lord, these things cannot come near you.

In rejecting the religious argument, the federal judge cited to the U.S. Supreme Court case of Jacobson v. Mass 1905, which found that Cambridge, Massachusetts’ compulsory vaccinations for smallpox was a lawful exercise of police powers.

The U.S. District Judge wrote that the U.S. Supreme Court strongly suggested:

religious objectors are not constitutionally exempt from vaccinations.

There are major concerns recently by public health officials that some defeated diseases are experiencing a resurgence in areas with low vaccination rates.

The religious families’ lawyer, in criticizing the decision, said that the 1905 case should not be relevant because:

there’s no way the 1905 Supreme Court anticipated that children would be subjected to the vaccines they must get today.

Though New York City schools have an overall immunization rate around 97%, 37 private schools were below 70%.

I’ve written about custody and vaccinations before. Health experts believe that above a certain immunization percentage rate, outbreaks are limited because a disease cannot spread to enough people, a phenomenon known as “herd immunity.”

Widespread vaccinations have practically eliminated certain highly contagious diseases, which used to plague the United States.

Now however, there were 477 measles cases reported this year, the worst year-to-date count since 1994, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Diseases have a way of finding our vulnerabilities, the kinks in our armor.”

The New York Times article can be read here.