New York state’s law ending religious exemptions from vaccines will have a profound effect in Rockland, where the county’s battle to contain a historic measles outbreak has been met by court challenges and stubborn pockets of resistance.
Michael Sussman, a civil rights lawyer who successfully sued the county on behalf of parents of unvaccinated children with religious exemptions at the Green Meadow Waldorf School in Chestnut Ridge, said that case was “essentially history” because of the state law.
“There’s a lot of tears, a lot of anger, a lot of consternation,” Sussman said of the Green Meadow parents’ reaction to Thursday’s vote in Albany to nix religious exemptions for students.
Sussman said the new state law raised critical questions.
“My major concern is that you don’t change people’s religious beliefs by passing a law,” he said. “There are hundreds of thousands of people who are affected. The question is what’s going to happen to these people? Are we going to criminalize them? Either you vaccinate your children or you’re going to be guilty of a crime?”