New York State passed legislation eliminating religious exemptions to school vaccine requirements in June. In Ithaca, where vaccination rates are low in several schools, public health advocates and school administrators are hopeful that the new law will improve community immunity. Some parents who were previously granted religious exemptions, however, say they may pull their kids out of school rather than vaccinate.
By repealing the religious exemption for vaccinations, New York mandated that all children who attend daycare, preschool, or school get vaccinated unless they have a medical condition that makes vaccinations unsafe. The legislation directly affects about 26,000 students statewide who were exempt from vaccination requirements in the 2017-18 school year. In Tompkins County, about 280 kids are impacted.