Monday, August 2, 2021
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New York Eliminates The Religious Exemption For Vaccines

THE virus is not yet contained, but the outbreak of cowardice is receding. After more than 1,000 cases of measles, including more than 850 in New York State, the Legislature on Thursday came to its senses and voted to end religious exemptions for vaccination in this state.
The exemption was being abused by parents who have fallen prey to insidiously irresponsible anti-vaccination conspiracy theorists peddling long-discredited junk science that vaccines cause autism. But parents who refuse to vaccinate their kids do not merely express their religious beliefs; they actively endanger infants and children who can’t get vaccinated for legitimate medical reasons. Take heart that, following Governor Cuomo’s appropriately swift signature, New York now has a fighting chance to stop the next viral outbreak. But it is premature to applaud, for three reasons.
First, because, even in victory, the vote showcased dangerous contempt for science. In the Assembly, the “yays” had it by only a razor-thin margin, and only after elected officials entered hogwash into the record.
Assemblyman Nader Sayegh voted against the bill because he didn’t think the measles outbreak had reached the level of an “epidemic.” Multiple members of the Assembly Health Committee openly expressed scepticism about vaccines, despite the mountain of evidence confirming their safety. The state’s Republican lawmakers stood almost united against the measure.
Second, as long as the Jessica Biels of the world keep spreading baseless conspiracy theories, there’s a chance the new law could trigger numbers of paranoid parents pulling their kids out of schools to avoid vaccinating them. Or finding unscrupulous doctors to sign off on bogus medical exemptions.
A safety net is only as strong as its weakest link.