By Bill Parry
Looking to combat the alarming rise of measles and pertussis in toddlers, state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) introduced legislation Monday that would encourage vaccinations following one of the worst seasons for deadly infectious diseases in recent memory. The bill would require any parent or guardian seeking an exemption from compulsory vaccinations to provide a physician’s affidavit to their children’s school stating that the physician discussed the risks of such a decision with the parent or guardian.
“The science clearly indicates that vaccinations are the safest and most effective way to prevent the spread of serious illness in our children,” Gianaris said. “At a time when measles and pertussis outbreaks are at their worst levels in decades and a disturbingly growing numbers of parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children, it is critical that we educate people about the health benefits of vaccinations.”
State law requires that public schoolchildren be immunized against a number of highly contagious diseases, including polio, measles and mumps. Parents can apply for an exemption based on religious grounds or for medical reasons if a vaccination would harm the child’s health.
In recent months controversy surrounding the anti-vaccination movement reached all-time highs as the United States experienced the worst outbreak of measles in 20 years and the worst of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, in 70 years. Gianaris’ bill seeks to ensure that parents are properly informed about the benefits of vaccination and make all New Yorkers safer from infectious disease.
Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria), who is expected to sponsor the legislation in the state Assembly, says her child is current on all vaccines. “Parents should have the most up-to- date, medically accurate information especially when making decisions about their children’s care,” she said.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr