2,700 NYC public school students refuse to vaccinate
Opting out of vaccines is not just for yeshivas.
A measles outbreak in Brooklyn’s Orthodox community, where an anti-vaccination movement is gaining momentum, has put Jewish religious schools under the spotlight, but figures obtained exclusively by the Daily News show that 2,700 city public school students have also refused mandatory vaccines under special exemptions for religious or medical reasons.
Those students represent less than 0.3% of the city schools’ total enrollment of roughly 1.1 million students.
A much larger number of students are unvaccinated for other reasons than refusals, Education Department officials said. The total number of unvaccinated students could be as high as 20,000, they said.
The school system requires students to obtain 10 different vaccines between prekindergarten and 12th grade, including vaccinations for measles, polio, hepatitis and the flu.
But families may request and receive exceptions if they can provide proof of medical or religious reasons for skipping vaccines.
As of 2015, there were 1,733 NYC public school students with religious exemptions, according to a report published at the time by WNYC.
The current number seems to be an anti-vaxxer spike, but city Education Department spokesman Doug Cohen said that the city didn’t have any historic data on hand.
“Students attending Department of Education schools are required to be vaccinated, and with 98% of students fully vaccinated, our public schools are safe,” said Cohen.
Cohen said religious exemptions are more common than medical ones, but the city’s rate of religious exemptions is still below the national average.