An Upstate New York county that tried to ban unvaccinated children from public places has now been overruled by a state judge, at least temporarily.
Last month, officials in Rockland County responded to a measles outbreak by instituting a ban on unvaccinated children from all public spaces, including schools. The measure was met with a legal challenge by a group of parents who claimed that the county was acting beyond its legal authority, and Judge Rolf Thorsen has now ruled to put a temporary block on the ban, CNN reported.
The ruling allows parents of unvaccinated children to send them back to schools and other public places, the report noted.
As CNN noted, the county was struck with a spate of measles cases that originated with an unvaccinated resident who caught the disease during a trip to Israel. It has since spread, mostly among Jewish neighborhoods, the report noted.
County officials had claimed that the large scale of the measles outbreak constituted an emergency, granting the county the power to institute the ban. County Attorney Thomas Humbach spoke out against the judge’s decision this week.
“The county is disappointed that the court did not see this measles outbreak, unprecedented in scope over the past 30 years, as a crisis sufficient to warrant the need for a declaration of a state of emergency,” Humbach said.
The court challenge played out against a larger national debate over the rights of parents to choose not to vaccinate their children. As more parents have decided to opt-out of traditional vaccinations over various concerns, some public officials have tried to institute measures that would either force them to get the vaccines or give children greater power to make their own decisions.
As NBC News reported, doctors are also putting new measures in place and instituting new methods to describe to parents the dangers of not vaccinating their children. Many have taken measures to debunk misinformation related to vaccines, countering the growing number of parents who choose not to vaccinate.
“The most recent estimate from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that in 2017, 1.3 percent of toddlers haven’t had a single shot, more than quadruple the 0.3 percent rate in 2001,” the report noted.
The ban on unvaccinated children in public places in Rockland County, New York, could still be left in place after the court case plays out, but the judge’s decision has at least put it on hold for the time being.