New York health officials on Friday (August 16) announced an emergency set of regulations in place that restrict the process of granting medical exemptions from vaccines, attempting to prevent those trying to claim them for non-medical reasons.
The new provisions are effective immediately and require all doctors who issue exemptions in New York to complete a state-approved form before they are granted.
They’re also now required to outline the specific medical reasons behind a child’s inability to receive each age-required vaccine claimed.
Previously, regulations allowed for a physician to submit a signed statement to schools without having to document why immunization may be detrimental to the child’s health.
New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker:
“These regulations will ensure that those who have legitimate medical reasons for not getting vaccinated are still able to obtain medical exemptions, while also preventing abuse of this option by those without such medical conditions.Immunizations are safe and effective and give children the best protection from serious childhood diseases. We will continue to do everything possible to promote public health for all New Yorkers, especially our children.”
The emergency regulations were announced by the State Department of Health and Office of Children and Family Services.
The U.S. is currently experiencing the worst outbreak of measles in more than 25 years, with pockets of New York primarily driving the crisis. As a result of non-medical vaccination exemptions, many communities across our state have low rates of vaccination.
State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia:
“Vaccines are the safest and most effective way to protect our students from debilitating diseases. NYSED will continue to work with the Health Department and Office of Children and Family Services to keep districts, parents and students informed on this new law and regulations. I’m grateful for this partnership and for the continued services we will provide to New York’s students.”
Under the new law ending all nonmedical vaccine exemptions, children who were not previously vaccinated will have 14 days from the first day of school to receive the first age appropriate dose in each immunization series and 30 days from the first day of school to schedule follow-up appointments.
Parents and guardians must demonstrate that their child has appointments scheduled for the next follow-up doses in accordance with the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) schedule.
However, the actual appointments for the follow-up doses may be more than 30 days out, so long as they are in accordance with the ACIP schedule. Re-issuing of exemptions will also continue to be required annually.
Office of Children and Family Services Commissioner Sheila J. Poole:
“This regulation will protect children who medically cannot be vaccinated as well as children who can. It is far better to prevent disease with vaccination than to treat a serious illness like the measles, which can be life threatening. OCFS has been working with child care providers statewide to inform them of the requirements under the updated regulations so that all children enrolled in child care programs will be protected from the spread of disease.”
PSA’s from the DOH: