Heads Up

Judge denies return of unvaccinated kids to school

April 4th, 2019

A federal judge has recently denied issuing a temporary injunction that would have allowed unvaccinated children to return to school in Rockland County, New York.

The 44 unvaccinated children attend Green Meadow Waldorf School which is in an area that has had an “unprecedented measles outbreak.”

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Lohud Source: Lohud

“The plaintiffs have not demonstrated that public interest weighs in favor of granting an injunction,” U.S. District Court Judge Vincent Briccetti said in federal court in White Plains.

After hearing the ruling, parents of the unvaccinated children were heartbroken and saddened by his decision. They even embraced as the ruling was declared.

“Preventing my child from being with his class, his teacher, his classroom, has had a significant social and psychological impact,” said a parent of a 4-year old preschooler who declined to give her name. “He is confused, given his young age, about why he isn’t allowed on his campus,” she said, her voice clearly on the brink of tears.

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Flickr Source: Flickr

Prior to this hearing, the parents of the 44 unvaccinated children had filed a lawsuit against the Rockland County Health Department and its commissioner.

The parents’ lawyer represented all 44 students and initially had a court appearance in which they were challenging an order that barred the students from returning to school. The judge’s unfavorable ruling came after this appearance.

The parents’ and students’ names were not listed in the lawsuit and only their initials were used to help protect their identities.

The defense lawyer for Rockland County was pleased with the judge’s decision, however, he knows this battle is not over.

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Twitter Source: Twitter

“We have had success, but this case is not over,” Rockland County Attorney Thomas Humbach said in a statement. “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 this school population.”

The lawsuit that the parents filed claims that Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert’s order violates and discriminates against their families’ religious objection to vaccinations. They also claim that the barring was unnecessary because the cases of measles have largely been restricted to the insular Hasidic Jewish communities–not their school of Green Meadow.

Green Meadow is a private school that promotes spiritual development and there hasn’t actually been a confirmed case of measles there.

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Hudson Valley Blogs Source: Hudson Valley Blogs

“What Rockland County has done is remarkably irrational in every conceivable way,” Michael Sussman, the parents’ lawyer, told the New York Times.

The county, however, has been experiencing the longest outbreak the state has seen since measles was officially declared eradicated from New York in 2000. There have been 145 cases reported since October 2018 and three more are currently under investigation.

The measles outbreak, that has largely affected the Orthodox Jewish community, prompted the Commissioner Ruppert to impose an order that schools in the 10952 and 10977 ZIP codes with vaccination rates under 95 percent must keep unvaccinated children from attending. This included Green Meadow Waldorf School.

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Wikimedia Source: Wikimedia

Sussman’s court papers state that Green Meadows’ students are “97 percent immune from the disease by all accounts,” although, the school’s vaccination rates were only at 33 percent.

Since the commissioner imposed the order on December 5th, the school’s vaccination rate has risen to 56 percent according to the county. The school spokesperson, however, says it’s more like 83 percent–which is still under the 95 percent imposed vaccination rate.

This exclusion of these students from school will end when there are no new cases of measles in the area for at least 21 days. But due to the increasing number of cases, the exclusion time may be increased to 42 days.

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Flickr Source: Flickr

The county’s decision is a part of a much broader national concern over the anti-vaccination movement. Due to severe measles outbreaks in the Pacific Northwest, South Carolina, and New York, the World Health Organization has even said that “vaccine hesitancy” is one of the biggest global threats in 2019.

What do you think about the judge’s decision? Learn more about the case in the video below.

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Source: Scary Mommy