Last night, the NYS legislature passed a bill (A.02371A/S.02994-A) eliminating religious exemptions for vaccines. Governor Cuomo has signed the bill into law. This morning, our phones have been ringing and questions are coming in from many of our clients.
This new law is effective immediately and applies to both public and private schools. However, this does not mean that a child who had a valid religious exemption yesterday cannot go to school today or tomorrow. Parents are given 14 days to provide proper documentation to schools. A principal can extend this grace period to 30 days if a parent can provide documentation that the child has received the first dose of all required vaccines and has appointments to receive the remainder of the vaccination protocol.
Most importantly, we want to reassure the parents of children who have a medical exemption that this new law does not impact those exemptions. Parents may download a form for requesting medical exemptions from vaccines from the NYC Department of Education’s website. The form must be filled out by your child’s treating physician. In our experience medical exemptions are generally reserved for very ill, immunocompromised children, such as those who are receiving chemotherapy treatments. Autism and developmental disability, food allergies (including egg allergies), contact with immunocompromised or pregnant persons, or other family history will not result in a medical exemption.