Anti-Vaxxers Sue New York City For Right To Refuse Vaccines

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. at a film festival
Rich Fury / Getty Images

A controversial organization that supports the right of parents to not vaccinate their children has filed a lawsuit against New York City and its Department of Health and Human Hygiene, in order to stop a mandate recently put into place that requires measles vaccinations in parts of Brooklyn.

According to the Brooklyn Eagle, Children’s Health Defense filed the lawsuit, while also requesting a temporary restraining order. The leader of the organization is Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., the lawyer and son of the late political leader.

Children’s Health Defense has been at the forefront of efforts in recent years to discourage vaccination and push theories — which have been wholly discredited, per the CDC — that link vaccines to autism. The doctor who pushed the most prominent study alleging such a connection, Andrew Wakefield, later lost his medical license, according to Time.

The suit by Children’s Health Defense was filed on behalf of the parents of five unvaccinated children, who do not wish to comply with a mandate, issued earlier this month, that all residents in certain zip codes in the city’s Williamsburg section must receive the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and face fines if they don’t.

A measles outbreak has been taking place in Brooklyn in recent weeks, mostly centered in some Orthodox Jewish communities in the borough. Per an earlier Brooklyn Eagle story, there were 285 confirmed measles cases in Brooklyn as of earlier this month.

“There is a small, I think very — angry if you will — loud, anti-vaxxer group that keeps trying to convince parents not to have their kids vaccinated,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a TV interview this week, as cited by the outlet. “The anti-vaxxer movement grew in recent years, but it’s not based on science — and this is the danger we now see.”

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Measles is a highly contagious disease. Its global infection rate had been dramatically reduced throughout the early part of the 21st century, but the disease has had a resurgence in recent years, due in part to the choices of many to forgo vaccinations.

President Donald Trump has dabbled in anti-vaccine conspiracy theories in the past.

“Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn’t feel good and changes – AUTISM. Many such cases!” Trump tweeted in 2014. Trump did not share an example of children to whom this has supposedly happened. Per Newsday, there were rumors early on in the Trump Administration that Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. would be asked to serve on an advisory board related to vaccines, but it doesn’t appear that that ever happened.