As school starts around the country, some New York parents are choosing to pull their kids out rather than vaccinate them following the state’s decision to repeal religious exemptions.
“We are changing everything,” Gretchen H. Thompson told Syracuse.com, telling the outlet she will home-school her three youngest children instead of sending them to class—at least until they move to another state that allows unvaccinated kids to attend school.
According to the new law, unvaccinated kids have until the first 14 days of school to get their first shot, as well as documentation within 30 days that they’ll receive follow-up shots. Schools face up to $2,000 fines per student that fails to comply.
The new legislation comes on the heels of a devastating measles outbreak that started in New York in September of 2018. Since then, more than 600 cases have been confirmed in New York City, with 300 more in Rockland County.
Though the U.S. eliminated measles in 2000, the outbreaks mean the U.S. may well lose its measles elimination status.
“It certainly is incredibly frustrating and upsetting to the public health community that we may lose measles elimination status, because we do have a safe and effective vaccine,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases told CNN.
The World Health Organization estimates vaccinations prevented at least 10 million deaths between 2010 and 2015.