A federal judge in New York refused to issue a temporary injunction this week that would have allowed dozens of unvaccinated students to return to school during an “unprecedented measles outbreak.”
Parents of 44 children who were not immunized and have been barred from returning to classes in Green Meadow Waldorf School, in Chestnut Ridge, New York, sued the Rockland County Health Department and the commissioner after an order was issued on Dec. 5 that prevented the children from school, The Rockland/Westchester Journal News reported.
The order, issued by Dr. Patricia Ruppert, Health Department commissioner said that schools in two ZIP codes with vaccination rates under 95 percent must not allow unvaccinated children to attend school, according to the Journal News.
The lawsuit says the order violates families’ right to make the decision not to get children vaccinated due religious grounds. They said the ban on their children is not necessary because the cases of measles have largely been in Hasidic Jewish communities.
There have been 145 cases of measles in Rockland since October, but no cases of the illness among the children who are banned or their families, the newspaper reported.
“Preventing my child from being with his class, his teacher, his classroom, has had a significant social and psychological impact,” one parent of a 4-year-old preschooler told the Journal News. The parent would not give her name. “He is confused, given his young age, about why he isn’t allowed on campus.”
County attorney Thomas Humbach said in a statement to the newspaper, “While no one enjoys the fact that these kids are out of school, these orders have worked; they have helped prevent the measles outbreak from spreading to the school population.”
The prohibition of the students attending school can be lifted when there is no new case of measles in 21 days, but there have been increases in infections and the exclusion time can be increased to 42 days.
Recently this week New York lawmakers have sponsored a bill that would let minors get vaccinated without parental consent, The Associated Press reported. The law, if passed, would apply to minors 14 and older.
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