On June 13th, the NYS legislature passed a bill (A.02371A/S.02994-A) eliminating religious exemptions for vaccines. Governor Cuomo signed the bill into law that night. The next morning, our phones began ringing with questions from many of our clients.
This new law became effective immediately and applies to public, private, and parochial schools. However, this does not mean that a child who had a valid religious exemption on June 13th cannot go to school today.
The law gives parents 14 days to provide proper documentation to schools or to demonstrate that their child has received the first doses of all required vaccines for their age. Parents have 30 days to demonstrate that they have appointments scheduled for the remainder of all required doses.
This means that children who have lost their religious exemption status, and who are attending school right now, must receive the first dose of age-appropriate vaccinations in each series by June 28th in order to keep attending school. Parents must also show that they have appointments scheduled to receive the remainder of the required doses by July 14th.
New York State follows the Center for Disease Control’s guidance for vaccine requirements. See: Recommended Child and Adolescent Immunization Schedule for ages 18 years or younger
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.