WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Last Thursday, after the state Senate and Assembly passed a bill ending religious exemptions for vaccinations, Governor Cuomo quickly signed it.
The new law means all children will need to get vaccinated to go to school unless they have a medical exemption.
As the bill was debated, hundreds of people against it were at the state Capitol in protest.
"The government does not have the right to interfere with my personal religious beliefs,” said a demonstrator.
But in a statement, Governor Cuomo said, “While I understand and respect freedom of religion, our first job is to protect the public health.”
Jefferson County Public Health Planner Faith Lustik agrees
“Vaccines are important for us all to get so we can protect the people who can’t get vaccinated because some people have medical reasons that they can’t receive vaccines so it’s our responsibility to make sure that we’re vaccinated against those diseases to protect them,” she said. “It’s very important to be vaccinated. It prevents many diseases in our community that really threaten our medically fragile people.”
The new law comes in the wake of the worst measles outbreak the nation has seen in decades. Many of the cases are in downstate New York.
And while there haven’t been any confirmed cases here in the north country, Lustik sasy there is always the potential for it.
“People will be traveling, people will be going to camp, lots of things coming up, so we really want to be alert to any potential measles cases,” she said.
You may be wondering about the Amish and other religious orders. If they want to send their kids to a public, private, parochial school or day care, they too will have to be vaccinated.