U.S. District Court Judge Vincent Briccetti denied a temporary injunction request that would have permitted 44 unvaccinated kids to return to school. This will keep the students out of the Green Meadow Waldorf School for at least three more weeks.
In December, Rockland County’s health commissioner, Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, ordered that children who are unvaccinated at 60 different private schools across two zip codes stay home from school during what has become the state’s longest measles outbreak in years, with 145 cases reported so far. The order applies to schools where the vaccination rates fall below 95 percent, and it marked the first time that county officials have moved to ban unvaccinated kids from schools.
The parents of the unvaccinated students at the heart of the injunction filed a lawsuit against the Rockland Health Department as well as the commissioner challenging that order in hopes of enabling their children to attend school without having to inject them with toxins to regain access. Their lawsuit says that the order not only violates their religious objections to the concept of vaccinations but is also unnecessary because the measles cases have so far been mostly confined to Hasidic Jewish communities. All of the children who are involved in the lawsuit had been granted religious exemptions to vaccination, but none are Orthodox Jews.
According to the county’s law department, the vaccination rate at Green Meadow stood at around 33 percent when the order was put in place in December and has since grown to roughly 56 percent. No cases of measles have been reported at the private school so far.
The parents of the students in question told the media that their children were affected psychologically by the order and can’t understand why they’re not allowed to go to school. One mother said her child has missed 90 days of school so far.
The lawsuit says that the children’s constitutional rights have been violated by forcing them to stay home from school and that the order has “substantially disrupted their education.”
A future court date hasn’t been set, although Briccetti told the parents’ lawyer, Michael Sussman, that he might fare better in state court. He added: "It’s a tough situation and I feel bad about it ... but I don’t feel I have the authority to do this."
Sussman said: “I do not believe state law gives the authority to the public health commissioner of the county or the state to exclude children from school where there is no reported case of measles in the specific school.”
Green Meadow Spokeswoman Vicki Larson said that the school does not have an official stance on the matter but is following the exclusion order issued by the county and working with the local health department. Students who want to return to school have to either prove their immunity to the disease or show that they got the measles, mumps and rubella vaccination.
The exclusion will end when no new cases are reported in the area for 21 days, although this time can be increased to 42 days as measles numbers rise.
It’s sad that these young children are suffering because of the mass hysteria created over an illness and vaccine that are widely misunderstood. If those who are vaccinated against the disease have the protection that vaccine proponents claim, they should not be afraid of allowing unvaccinated students to share their classrooms.
Of course, the truth is that not only can vaccinated kids indeed contract measles, but they can also infect others with it, according to a study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. In fact, the 2011 New York measles outbreak was caused by a vaccinated person. If they really don’t want kids to spread measles, perhaps everyone should be forced to stay home.
Sources for this article include: