Amid the worst measles outbreak in decades, New York passed a law this week that mandates children who are not vaccinated NOT to attend classes.
Furious anti-vaxx parents have since been posting memes and photos of sad children and even went out to protest the governor because the new law prohibits unvaccinated children from attending school.
The mandate that was enacted in June “prohibits a school 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 14-day grace period started expiring this week, which means that school officials already began removing unvaccinated students from schools to be picked up by their parents. Just to be clear, the students are allowed to return to school if their parents have them vaccinated.
State health officials have since told BuzzFeed news that 26,217 unvaccinated students in New York public schools, private schools, parochial schools, daycare centers, and prekindergarten programs claimed religious exemptions during the previous school year.
New York ended religious exemptions for vaccines with the new law, following the worst measles outbreaks seen in decades.
A group of parents protested (and live-streamed) outside Lloyd Harbor Elementary School in Long Island on Tuesday as they waited to collect their children from their 14th and last day of school until they were vaccinated.
A parent told Newsday that the ban left local parents in “absolute hell”, and she said that they’re just watching everybody else’s school life go on, and her life has stopped. She added that she plans to homeschool her daughter, aged 6, 12, and 14.
Faced with no other options, many New York parents also posted about beginning to homeschool their children.
Unvaccinated children could be enrolled in school or childcare centers if their parent or guardian held “genuine and sincere religious beliefs against immunization” up until the new law was passed.
With the new law, the only exemptions allowed are medical exemptions in which a physician with a New York license certifies that “such immunization may be detrimental to a child’s health”.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters after signing the bill on June 13 that he understands freedom of religion, and he respects it. He also noted that he has heard the anti-vaxxers’ theory, but he believes both are overwhelmed by the public health risk.
Among anti-vaxxer parents’ most-shared photos are images of the children who can no longer attend schools because of their parents’ decisions.