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Federal judge bars unvaccinated children from returning to New York school
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Federal judge bars unvaccinated children from returning to New York school

A federal judge denied a temporary injunction on Tuesday that would have allowed 44 unvaccinated children to return to school.

Parents of unvaccinated children attending Green Meadow Waldorf School in Rockland County, New York, brought this suit challenging an exclusion order by the the Rockland County Health Department barring unvaccinated children from attending schools where the vaccination rate is less than 95 percent. The exclusion order is part of the health department’s efforts to quell a recent measles outbreak.

The plaintiffs argue that the exclusion order is too broad; they note that the Rockland County measles outbreak is largely confined to Orthodox Jewish communities and that the exclusion order should not apply to schools like Green Meadow, where no measles cases have been reported. The Rockland County Attorney’s office counters that it is because of the exclusion order that the measles outbreak has not spread to Green Meadow.

Judge Vincent Briccetti of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York in White Plains sided with the county and denied the parents’ motion to allow their children to return to school. Briccetti did not schedule any additional hearings on the matter and suggested that the case ought to be brought in state court. 

The measles outbreak in Rockland County is one of the largest in the country—with 145 cases reported since October 2018—and the longest in New York since measles was eradicated from the US in 2000. The outbreak prompted New York legislators to introduce a bill this month that would allow children 14 years of age and older to obtain vaccinations without parental consent.

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