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Health officials: NYS should consider removing religious exemption for vaccinations

February 05, 2019 06:16 PM

NEW YORK (WHEC) --- Health officials say it's time New York state considers following California and removing the religious exemption when it comes to vaccinations. 

At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Monroe County Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza confirmed seven cases of measles in the county.

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Dr. Mendoza told reporters that is an alarming number and he re-affirmed that the number one way to prevent getting the virus is by vaccination.

"At this time, we believe this is an isolated cluster among a small group of individuals who have chosen not to vaccinate," said Dr. Mendoza.

Dr. Mendoza was joined at the Rochester Academy of Medicine on East Avenue by his colleagues from UR Medicine and Rochester Regional Health. 

The health professionals expressed concern about what appears to be a small, but growing group of parents who are refusing to vaccinate their children. 

Parents can legally opt out for either medical concerns or religious beliefs. However, the concern is that parents are overusing the religious exemption.

 "I think there are a whole host of people not objecting on religious grounds," he said. "The number of religious exemptions has increased rapidly over the last five years. We have to ask ourselves if religion has changed that rapidly in the last five or 10 years." 

Doctors worry a health crisis could erupt like in California and they would like to see New York eliminate the religious exemption altogether. 

"After the outbreak at Disney, the state of California took away personal belief out of their law for not getting vaccines and it has helped," said Dr. Cynthia Christy, M.D., Rochester General Hospital's associate chief of pediatrics. 

News10NBC reporter Lynette Adams: "Is it your thought that New York should follow what California has done?"

Dr. Christy: "You bet!"

Measles is a highly infectious disease that can cause serious illness and even death. 

According to Dr. Christy, it is 97 percent preventable with the recommended two doses of the measles vaccine.

RELATED STORIES: 

Fourth case of measles confirmed in Monroe County 

Two cases of measles confirmed at Spencerport school

Confirmed case of measles in Monroe County

County health department announces 3 new, non-lab confirmed measles cases

Credits

Lynette Adams

Copyright 2019 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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