By the Niagara County Department of Health
In the U.S., vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks are occurring in schools, churches, religious groups and other group settings with low immunization rates. New York state has experienced increased numbers of measles outbreaks in areas with low immunization rates of children. This was due to religious exemptions that resulted in unvaccinated children attending schools where disease was spread to other unvaccinated children, some of whom cannot receive vaccines due to medical conditions.
In New York, children enrolled in day cares, preschools and schools have to meet state Public Health Law 2164 school requirements in order to attend school. If children are unimmunized, they are not allowed to attend school until they have received all the required vaccines for their age.
Steven Grabiec, M.D., a board-certified allergist and medical consultant for the Niagara County Department of Health, said, “As a physician, I am fully aware of the risks that lack of adequate vaccination rates pose to children, especially those with compromised immune systems.”
Niagara County Public Health Director Daniel J. Stapleton said, “Vaccine mandates are key to safeguarding the health of the communities we serve.”
Parents and caregivers are encouraged to be familiar with the 2019-20 state immunization requirements for school entrance (https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/2370.pdf).
On June 13, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation removing nonmedical exemptions from vaccination requirements for children attending public, private or parochial school, and child day care settings. All children starting school, or who have attended school and have a religious exemption to required immunizations, must now receive the first age-appropriate dose in each immunization series along with the follow-up doses.
Medical exemptions are allowed in New York for children with certain medical conditions. There is no philosophical exemption against vaccines in the state for school attendance.
The New York State Department of Health conducts surveys of school and child day care facility immunization and exemption rates on an annual basis. It audits a sample of schools each year for compliance with Public Health Law 2164 and to verify the rates reported. Any student out of compliance will now be excluded from school until they receive the required vaccines.
School immunization rates in Niagara County remain high for all vaccines due to state immunization regulations.
Protect yourself, your children and your community by being up to date on immunizations.
For more information on measles disease and other vaccine preventable diseases, contact your medical provider. The Niagara County Department of Health immunization program may be reached at 716-278-1903. For accurate and vetted information regarding vaccines and immunizations, visit the Centers for Disease Control website at: www.cdc.gov/vaccines.