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Education

Will vaccine exemptions for school-age kids return to NY?

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Children's Health Defense
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After Wednesday's hearing, Attorneys Michael Sussman (right) and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (center) will answer questions.

New York students who haven't been vaccinated against measles and other diseases are waiting to hear if they can go back to school.

The state requires all students be vaccinated, but until recently made an exception for those whose parents objected on religious grounds.

Some of those parents are now challenging the change in court, saying it will keep 26,000 children out of school and daycare. On Wednesday, lawyers from the state and Children's Health Defense will argue the issue before a judge in Albany.

“Religious rights are fundamental. It is unconstitutional for the state to deprive people of such important rights when religious animus has played a key role," said Children's Health Defense Chief Legal Counsel John F. Kennedy Jr. "To enact such harsh legislation without any legislative fact-finding, and with the legislators’ open display of prejudice towards religious beliefs different than their own, is simply un-American. It is essential that we fight this.”

The organization challenged the repeal as "constitutionally defective and unlawful." They are seeking "judicial intervention to enjoin the repeal and permit their children back to school and camp throughout the state."

Lawmakers did away with the non-medical exemptions in June following the biggest measles outbreak in more than 25 years. More than 1,000 cases have been confirmed in New York, the majority of them in New York City.

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