April 2021 Church & State Magazine | AU Bulletin

A federal court has ruled that officials in Rockland County, N.Y., may require that children attending private schools be inoculated against measles.

The Rockland County Department of Health has required children between 6 months and 18 years of age to be vaccinated against measles before they can be enrolled in day cares, schools or religious institutions. Officials took the step to curb a measles outbreak that erupted in the fall of 2018.

Parents of children who attended a Waldorf school resisted the vaccine and claimed a religious exemption, even though the private school is not religious. U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith C. McCarthy ruled Feb. 22 that while children with legitimate medical exemptions could be excused from the vaccine, the county does not have to recognize religious exemptions.

“[T]he Court must respect Defendants’ expertise as officials specifically elected to protect the public health, and numerous courts have recognized the constitutional validity of mandatory vaccination laws,” wrote McCarthy in her ruling. (W.D. v. Rockland County)