Immunizations and our schools

Change in vaccination law now restricts religious exemption

Upon changes in immunization laws in New York, school websites now display vaccination information, deadlines and mandates in preparation for the upcoming school year.

Children attending school or daycare are required by state law to be vaccinated. This school year, though, a religious exemption will no longer admit students into not only public schools but private and religious institutions as well.

After the change in the law enacted June 13, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, alongside state Department of Health officials, mentioned only one exemption, involving medical reasoning authorized by a physician practicing in New York. The change came amid a measles outbreak, in which New York was hit hard, with 96 percent of the state’s K-12 previously being vaccinated.

Before school begins, all children must provide their institution with proof of immunization against poliomyelitis, mumps, measles, diphtheria, rubella, varicella, hepatitis B, pertussis, tetanus and (where applicable by grade level) hemophilus influenza type B (HiB), meningococcal disease and pneumococcal disease.

In the case that such proof is not presented, schools have the discretion on exclusion for up to 30 days for good cause shown, according to the Public Health Law. This process of time-discretion, though, must be backed by presenting scheduled appointments for follow-up doses within the time window.

The William Floyd School District alerted the parents of students who were previously provided religious exemption from immunizations in addition to posting information at length involving the change in law’s resulting requirements for parents and schools.

South Country School District’s website now highlights the law and discusses the responsibilities of parents of children in getting their proof in.

Patchogue-Medford School District assistant superintendent for special education and pupil services Jessica Lukas said certified letters were sent alerting parents about the new legislation that was passed. Families were also notified via a ConnectEd message and will be receiving a follow-up notification next week reminding them of the requirements.

More information about the immunizations required is available from your child’s pediatrician and from the school nurse at your child’s school.

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