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Get Vaccinated or Leave School: 26,000 N.Y. Children Face a Choice

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill Thursday ending vaccination exemptions based on religious beliefs, the latest attempt to address the growing measles outbreak, the worst the U.S

has experienced in decades. Cuomo said plugging the loophole should help contain the spike in measles cases in New York, the state hardest hit by the uptick in the contagious virus due to low vaccination rates in ultra-Orthodox communities.

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When it comes to personal and religious beliefs involving their children, parents are presumed to act in the best interests of their children. When a couple separates and requests the court’s intervention in determining the best interest of the child, virtually every decision comes under scrutiny. Vaccination can become a highly contested issue in custody cases. Whether former agreements to forego vaccinations will be upheld depends on the reasons behind the decision and the parent's change of heart

Courts examine the reasons behind a parent’s refusal to vaccinate and determine the credibility of a parent’s change of heart when the decision was made jointly and based on religious beliefs. Ultimately, courts must balance the freedom of religion with the right of parents to direct the upbringing of their child as they see fit and the best interest of the child.

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Although critics argue that vaccination is responsible for the suffering of most Americans as they become older, there are several reasons vaccination against the avian virus must be supported

First, the exercise will enable the government of the United States to save on precious resources (Bloom & Lambert, 2002). Suppose, for example, that the call to vaccinate is ignored and a lethal health problem erupts. Among other issues, this will leave the entire nation at the mercy of the virus. Lives may be lost, and the government may be compelled to spend quite heavily on efforts to contain the situation. The hiring of more medical personnel and heavy expenditure on treatment and medication often result. Over the years, major strides have been made by scientists to improve the medical sector. As such, the health of a nation can easily be protected against diseases through scientific inventions. There are, however, feelings among some researchers that vaccination only serves the interests of a few individuals out to benefit from the ignorance of the masses (Maurice & Davey, 2009).

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To sum up, by vaccinating children against rubella (German measles), the risk that pregnant women will pass this virus on to their fetus or newborn has been dramatically decreased, and birth defects associated with that virus no longer are seen in the United States

If we continue vaccinating now, and vaccinating completely, parents in the future may be able to trust that some diseases of today will no longer be around to harm their children in the future.

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Bloom, B. R. & Lambert, P. (2002). The Vaccine Book. London, UK: Academic Press.

Maurice, J. M. & Davey, S. (2009). State of the World’s Vaccines and Immunization. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization.

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