Can the state stop you from sending your child to school if he or she does not have the required vaccinations?
Vaccinations are often required in order for children to attend school. This has become a point of contention for some parents who choose to modify recommended vaccination schedules or opt not to vaccinate their children at all. Sometimes this decision is motivated by religious beliefs; in recent years, concerns about alleged links between vaccines and autism, for example, have led some parents to avoid certain childhood vaccines.
New York State law requires public school students to be immunized against various illnesses. There are two exemptions: a medical exemption (if a licensed physician certifies that the immunization may be detrimental to a child's health); and, a religious exemption (when parents or guardians hold religious beliefs contrary to the required immunizations). The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld this law as constitutional in Phillips v. City of New York, et al., pointing out that the exemptions are not even required by the Constitution.
Among other issues, the Phillips case involved four children with religious exemptions who were excluded from school when another student was diagnosed with chicken pox. A state regulation permitted officials from barring students with exemptions when there was an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease. The Second Circuit upheld the laws as a constitutionally permissible exercise of the State's police power that did not infringe on the free exercise of religion.
According to their attorney, the parents who unsuccessfully challenged the New York State law and regulation will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The attorney believes that the Supreme Court will accept the case since it has not considered the topic of mandatory vaccination in more than 100 years. Given the growing resistance by many parents to vaccinate their children and the disputed scientific evidence, this case might provide the impetus to revisit the legality of compulsory vaccinations.
Vaccine injury attorney Leah Durant can assist you with all vaccine related matters. Call (202) 800-1711 for a consultation today.