In Rockland County, six of the 80 Orthodox Jewish schools in the state database had vaccination rates below 90 percent, according to OJPAC, an advocacy group for Orthodox Jews. Given the size of each school, 96% of all school-aged Orthodox children in the county have been vaccinated, the group said.
“Given that virtually all children in Jewish schools are completely caught up in their mandatory vaccinations by the time they go to school, it is absurd to suggest that this community as a collective has more anti-vaccination sentiments than elsewhere. said Yossi Gestetner, the group’s co-founder.
In Oneida County, a small Amish school, Meadow Valley, reported that 11% of its students were vaccinated against poliomyelitis. Dan Gilmore, county director of public health, said he’s not sure if vaccinations are required at Amish schools, though he encourages them. Either way, he added, enforcement would fall to the state. The Cattaraugus County director of public health said about 20 Amish schools in his area have not submitted any vaccine information to the state.
The state health department has confirmed that it is responsible for investigating complaints about vaccination reports for private schools outside of New York City, conducting annual audits of a “number selected” of schools and publish remedial action plans. However, the frequency of audits is unclear.
After the state removed religious exemptions for vaccinations in 2019, an Amish family in rural Seneca County filed a lawsuit, saying they objected to vaccinations because they believed “God has makes his children “righteous and good” and to vaccinate his children is to lose faith in God”. according to the trial.
Under state law, unvaccinated children in the family should have been excluded from school. But although the family lost in the first round of the court battle, the state backed down and did not enforce the rule, said James G. Mermigis, the family’s attorney, who dropped the suit.
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