A federal judge in New York denied a request on Tuesday to allow unvaccinated children to return to school.
Tuesday’s decision is in response to the original ban that went into effect in December. Rockland County banned unvaccinated students from attending school after one of its most severe measles outbreaks in decades, reports the NY Times.
Under the order, unvaccinated students would not be allowed to return until the school’s vaccination rate reached 95 percent. This went for all unvaccinated students, regardless of religious or medical exemptions.
Rockland County has had 146 confirmed cases of measles since October, the majority in kids under the age of 18. Many cases involved members of Orthodox Jewish communities where vaccination rates tend to be lower, according to public health officials.
The parents of 42 students at Green Meadow Waldorf School sued the Rockland County Health Department, requesting a federal judge to allow the students to return to school.
Judge Vincent Bricetti denied this request, saying the parents failed to prove “that public interest weighs in favor of granting an injunction.”
“While no one enjoys the fact that these kids are out of school these orders have worked,” the county’s attorney, Thomas E. Humbach, said in a statement. “They have helped prevent the measles outbreak from spreading to this school population.”
Since the initial ban, there have been zero confirmed cases of measles at Green Meadow.
The complaint filed by the parents said that Rockland County officials violated the children’s constitutional rights by forcing them to stay home, as well as “substantially disrupted” their education.
“What Rockland County has done is remarkably irrational in every conceivable way,” said Mark Sussman, the parents’ attorney.
Last week, an Ohio teenager who got vaccinated against his family’s wishes, testified before Congress, expressing that his mother had fallen victim to conspiracy theories about immunization dangers, reports MSN.
Days after his testimony, New York lawmakers proposed a bill that would allow teenagers to get vaccinated without parental consent.
The decision to ban unvaccinated students has fueled the public pushback against people who choose to not vaccinate their children. Many have turned toward social media to share their opinions, fears, or information they believe to be true.
In response, the American Medical Association (AMA) has recently asked tech companies, such as Facebook, Google and Twitter, to stop the spread of vaccine misinformation, reports CBS Boston.
“With public health on the line and with social media serving as a leading source of information for the American people, we urge you to do your part to ensure that users have access to scientifically valid information on vaccinations, so they can make informed decisions about their families’ health,” said Dr. James Madara, executive vice president at AMA.
Many of the companies have since responded to Madara.
“We’ve put a lot of effort into curbing misinformation in our products – from better Search ranking algorithms to improving our ability to surface authoritative content, to tougher policies against monetization of harmful or dangerous content on YouTube,” Google said.
Pinterest announced last month that it had blocked all vaccine searches from its platform. Facebook has also confirmed that it plans to reduce the rankings of anti-vaccination groups and pages and reject anti-vaccination ads.
A spokesperson for Amazon says it is reviewing the AMA’s letter.
The World Health Organization (WHO) considers the vaccine hesitancy to be one of the biggest threats to global health in 2019.
“Vaccination is one of the most cost-effective ways of avoiding disease– it currently prevents 2-3 million deaths a year, and a further 1.5 million could be avoided if global coverage of vaccinations improved,” it said.
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