A group of anti-vax parents sued officials for banning their unvaccinated children from school during a measles outbreak.
More than 40 children were banned from attending their school in Rockland County, which was central to the recent measles outbreak in New York.
Parents of the children affected by the ban said it was doing more harm than good, however their request to allow the children to return was denied by the court.
As reported by The New York Times, New York State is currently facing one of its most severe measles outbreaks in decades, with a total of 145 cases reported in Rockland County since last October.
As such, public health officials in Rockland County made the decision in December to ban unvaccinated students from attending school, a decision not well received by the parents of the 42 children affected by the ban at Green Meadow Waldorf School.
The group of anti-vax parents took it upon themselves to sue the Rockland County health department, asking a federal judge to issue an injunction to allow the children to return.
Their request was denied on Tuesday (March 12).
Measles is a highly contagious (but preventable) viral disease; symptoms include a high fever, characteristic red rash, and bloodshot eyes – among other symptoms.
Routine vaccinations for children are key in reducing the number of deaths caused by measles. But with people trusting vaccinations less and less, many are failing to vaccinate their children.
World Health Organization (WHO)’s Director of Immunisation and Vaccines, Professor Katherine O’Brien, said in a press conference last month that the world is now ‘backsliding’ in its attempts to stop the spread of measles.
In the hearing at Federal District Court in White Plains, Judge Vincent Bricetti ruled against the parents, saying they had ‘not demonstrated that public interest weighs in favor of granting an injunction’, The Journal News reports.
But the parents are adamant the ban is doing more harm than good, with one mother saying outside court, as per CBS:
Preventing my child from being with his class, his teacher, his classroom has had a significant social and psychological impact.
The mum went on to say her child has missed 90 days of class at the private Green Meadow Waldorf School.
The attorney for the families, Michael Sussman, said outside court:
I do not believe state law gives the authority to the public health commissioner of the county or the state to exclude children from school where there is no reported case of measles in the specific school.
But the judge disagreed, saying the exclusion order to protect public health was ‘neither arbitrary nor outrageous’.
Some parents have hired tutors for their children, while others have arranged for their children to watch live-streams from the classrooms. Only a small amount have had their children vaccinated.
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