New York moves to end religious vaccine exemption

Posted at 2:03 PM, Jun 13, 2019

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation eliminating a religious exemption to vaccine mandates for schoolchildren in the face of the nation's worst measles outbreak in decades.

The Democrat signed the bill Thursday soon after it was approved by lawmakers.

Similar exemptions are allowed in 46 states, though lawmakers in several of them are also considering the elimination of the waiver. Maine nixed its religious exemption earlier this year.

Hundreds of opponents of the bill, including parents of unvaccinated children, protested outside New York's Capitol ahead of Thursday's vote. They say the bill is an assault on religious freedom.

Supporters say misinformation spread by anti-vaxxers has created a public health crisis.

Health officials said last week that this year's U.S. measles epidemic has surpassed 1,000 illnesses, the highest in 27 years.