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Assemblymember Pat Burke co-sponsors legislation to ban vaccine exemptions

Posted at 11:24 AM, Feb 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-19 18:23:33-05

Assemblymemer Pat Burke, (D) Buffalo, has announced he is co-sponsoring legislation that would ban exemptions from vaccines.

He said if parents wish to have their children attend school in New York state and have no medical condition, they should be vaccinated - no exception.

"If someone has an auto-immune disease and just can't have it, or there are several reasons why someone can't be vaccinated, those are the exemptions. But there are no non-medical exemptions."

Burke said the bill would ban non-medical exemptions, including religous beliefs, which is what one mother in East Aurora wanted for her children.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been 101 documented cases of measles across 10 states between January first and February seventh of this year - including New York State.

Burke said opting out of getting a vaccine causes an even bigger problem than harming others in the community.

"It's also a national security issue. One of the major threats to our people and our country would be a biological attack," he said. "So when you have people willfully, purposefully making themselves susceptible to diseases that are preventable it's just not acceptable in our society."

Last week we told you Marina Williams took the Orahard Park School District to court, after the district and the state denied her two daughters from being exempt from vaccines for personal beliefs.

"That's been a part of New York law for a very long time for the previous ten years. Before she moved in the Fall of 2018 from West Seneca to the Orchard Park School District, she had been granted this religious exception every single year," said her lawyer, Frank Housh.

But the judge ruled in favor of the school district.

"They lost that case, again, for a reason 'cause it's not just them that they impact. So I would again go back to the example of someone with an autoimmune disease who is susceptible to these types of thing. Based off of her decision, she could negatively impact someone else's child or someone else's life," said Burke. "I do not believe someone's religion gives them the ability to hurt others."

Burke said this legislation is not an infringement on people's freedom of religion, but rather it is a matter of public health.