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In New York, unvaccinated kids may be sent home despite religious exemption, court says

Religious beliefs don't mean that an unvaccinated child gets to stay in school in New York if another student has a vaccine-preventable disease, according to a new federal court ruling.
Lois M. Collins, Deseret News Modified: June 26, 2014 at 5:31 pm •  Published: June 27, 2014

Kids who aren't vaccinated can be sent home when another student has a vaccine-preventable illness, according to a federal district court ruling.

Vox reports that "New York City schools require all students to get a series of basic vaccinations in order to attend classes. But in New York State — along with several other states — laws say that parents can opt out of these requirements for religious reasons."

Nonetheless, school officials have sent children home if they are not vaccinated and another child in the school comes down with a disease that vaccines are known to prevent. Their reasoning is that the unvaccinated student may contract and further spread the disease.

Three families — two with religious exemptions and one that had not been granted one — sued over the issue.

"Citing a 109-year-old Supreme Court ruling that gives states broad power in public health matters, Judge William F. Kuntz II of Federal District Court in Brooklyn ruled against three families who claimed that their right to free exercise of religion was violated when their children were kept from school, sometimes for a month at a time, because of the city’s immunization policies," wrote Benjamin Mueller in the New York Times.

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