Vaccination
Vaccination iStock

Tens of thousands of students in New York State face the choice of accepting mandatory vaccination, or being expelled from public schools.

Some 26,000 public school students in New York had previously used religious exemptions to avoid mandatory vaccines, which are normally required at public schools.

But on June 13th, New York State amended the law, ending all non-medical exemptions to the vaccine requirement, including the religious exemption.

With the change in the law, all New York State public school students who do not have a medical exemption will be required to either get vaccinated within the first two weeks of the school year – which began this week – or be expelled from the public school system.

Local school officials across the state are working to convince parents who previously used the religious exemption to vaccinate their children, thus enabling them to remain enrolled at school.

Lorna Lewis, superintendent of the Plainview-Old Bethpage Central School District in Long Island and a staunch supporter of the end of the religious exemption, told The New York Times that while most of the 65 children in her district who used the exemption last year would probably be vaccinated, the parents of at least ten would likely choose to home school their kids.

“We have 5,000 students in my district,” she said. “If there are 10 that have hard-standing vaccine adverse parents, I have 4,990 others whose safety I have to think about.”

On Tuesday, New York City declared its measles outbreak, which had been concentrated largely in Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn, to be over.

The city lifted emergency orders mandating vaccines, after no new infections were reported over the last two incubation periods.