'No parents should ever have to worry about taking their child shopping or to the park out of fear for contracting measles'


Make text smaller Make text larger





Growing up in middle school, I often played a game called "Oregon Trail." Set in the mid-1800s, one's mission was to lead a caravan of Americans out west and overcome challenges along the way, one of which was avoiding diseases such as smallpox, dysentery and measles.

Now, in 2019, at the same time we are testing driverless cars and printing 3-D body parts for surgery, a debate is raging in Albany and in the Hudson Valley about what to do regarding the measles public health crisis.

Prior to this outbreak, never in a million years did I imagine the state Legislature would be discussing measles, a disease we eradicated nearly twenty years ago.

Yet, here we are.

With the outbreak's epicenter in densely populated Rockland County, most of the Senate District that I represent is disproportionately at risk. In particular, babies who are not yet mature enough to receive vaccines and adults with compromised immune systems, such as individuals undergoing chemotherapy, are at exceptionally high risk.

No Hudson Valley parents should ever have to worry about taking their child shopping or to the park out of fear for contracting measles.

The present situation is an outrage and lawmakers must act.

New York State permits a so-called "religious exemption" for vaccines, despite the fact not one, single organized religion objects to immunizations.

In other words, our state's religious exemption currently allows some individuals and groups to pretend as if there are genuine religious reasons to opt-out when, in fact, every religion from Christianity to Islam to Judaism to Scientology has no issues whatsoever with immunization.

Even Jehovah’s Witnesses, who previously denounced vaccines, revised their doctrine in 1952 and now promote immunization.

With more than 600 cases of measles in New York - the most in the nation - and counting, the time is now to end the state's nonsensical and dangerous religious exemption.

I'm a strong supporter of the First Amendment. I draw a line in the sand, however, when someone's self-professed First Amendment rights endanger their own children and, importantly, other families' children.

In recent days, I've heard vaccine opponents throw around the bumper sticker slogan, "my child, my choice."

Putting aside the inherent dangers for your own son or daughter, let's make a deal: it's your choice if you agree to keep your unvaccinated child far away from everyone else's children.

I'm co-sponsoring S.2994 legislation to end the religious exemption, because enough is enough. I don't care what the political repercussions are: the Hudson Valley faces a public health crisis and I am not going to sit idly by.

Vaccines save lives, and unless there is a legitimate medical reason why someone can’t be vaccinated, immunizations ought to be required if that individual wants to be in the public and interact with others.

Disappointingly, the Governor recently claimed ending the religious exemption is “legally questionable,” a statement that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Other states have successfully eliminated religious exemptions - and saw immunization rates dramatically increase as a result.

When tested in court, those pro-vaccine efforts have prevailed every time with judges consistently ruling the laws as constitutional.

I'm calling on Governor Cuomo to get his facts straight and join this important legislative endeavor.

While I recognize that some individuals have good-faith concerns about vaccines, there comes a point where we must follow the scientific consensus and ensure the public's health is protected. The legislation I'm co-sponsoring to end the religious exemption does just that.

We've already wasted too much time debating this issue. It's time to take immediate action on behalf of our state's children.

James Skoufis represents New York's 39th state senatorial district.



Make text smaller Make text larger

Comments

Pool Rules



MUST READ NEWS

Allan's Falafel celebrates ten years in Chester
By Ginny Privitar
Allan’s Falafel on Main Street in Chester celebrates their tenth year in business this August. The business is thriving — so much so,...

Read more »
Image

Cooling centers to open during heat wave
The National Weather Service has issued a hazardous weather outlook for Friday and Saturday. The forecast is for high heat and humidity, with temperatures reaching the upper 90s...
Read more »
Image

NY judge won't block ban on religious vaccine exemption
(AP) A judge in New York has refused to block a state law repealing a religious exemption to vaccine mandates.
Lawyers representing 55 families in New York filed a lawsuit...

Read more »
Image

Bathroom, skateboarding are priorities for recreation commission
By Geri Corey
Members of Goshen's town and village boards got together in June to discuss several capital projects recommended by the Joint Recreation Commission.
In a...

Read more »
Image

VIDEOS



Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Community Newspapers



MOST READ

Local News
Spider-web girl art 'guitar' is taken
  • Jul 11, 2019
Local News
Missing Goshen man found dead
  • Jul 12, 2019

MOST COMMENTED



Find more about Weather in Chester, NY