On Thursday the New York state legislature passed a bill prohibiting citizens of the state from refusing vaccinations on religious grounds. New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed it into law the same day.
The spread of easily-preventable diseases like measles has become a public health crisis in New York City since 2018. Nearly one thousand cases have been reported across the country, with almost half of them in New York City and its surrounding metropolitan area. Measles was declared effectively eliminated in the United States by the year 2000 by the Center for Disease Control but has made a comeback in recent years due to an aggressive “anti-vaccination” movement led by celebrities and conspiracy theorists. The so-called “anti-vax” movement advocates forgoing childhood vaccinations citing pharmaceutical company greed and links to autism or other chronic diseases that have been widely debunked by the medical community.
This law came in response to a number of “anti-vax” parents who attempted to sue the state government to try to continue evading mandatory vaccinations. Their case was recently dismissed by a New York judge.
In a statement, Governor Cuomo said “the science is crystal clear: Vaccines are safe, effective and the best way to keep our children safe.” He added that “while I understand and respect freedom of religion, our first job is to protect the public health and by signing this measure into law, we will help prevent further transmissions and stop this outbreak right in its tracks.”
The Maine legislature recently passed a similar bill.