Removal of Religious Exemption from Immunization Requirements

Removal of Religious Exemption from Immunization Requirements

 

KEEPING YOU INFORMED…

We are writing to inform you of a recent amendment to the New York State Public Health Law that removed the religious exemption to the school children immunization requirements. This revision took effect immediately upon its enactment on June 13, 2019. School children includes any child between the ages of two months and 18 years in a public, private or parochial child care center, day nursery, day care agency, nursery school or school covering any of the grades K-12.

The law provides that no child may be admitted to or may attend school for more than 14 school days without a record of the required vaccinations. Prior to this amendment, two exemptions were available: (1) a religious exemption where a parent or guardian held a genuine and sincere religious belief (“the Religious Exemption”); and (2) a medical exemption. The amendment eliminated the Religious Exemption.

The amendment also revised the law to provide parents and/or guardians with up to 30 school days to demonstrate that the child has received at least the first dose of each of the required immunizations and that age appropriate appointments have been scheduled to complete the required immunization series according to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices Recommended Immunization Schedules for Persons Aged 0 through 18 years (copy attached). This provision applies to new students, as well as those students who are currently attending school and who had previously been granted a Religious Exemption.

The 30 school days started on June 14, 2019 (if school was in session that day) and will continue into the next school year for children who are not attending school in the summer. We, therefore, recommend that written notice about these new requirements, as well as the date by which receipt of the immunizations and appointments for the immunization series must be demonstrated, be immediately sent to the parents/guardians of any student who is already attending school due to a Religious Exemption.

The 30 school day provision expires on June 30, 2020. After that, a student cannot be admitted or attend school for more than 14 school days without proof of the required vaccinations or a medical exemption.

If you have any questions regarding the changes to the law or would like assistance amending your current policies or regulations, please contact Mara Harvey or one of our other attorneys by calling 631-694-2300.

THIS MEMORANDUM IS MEANT TO ASSIST IN GENERAL UNDERSTANDING OF THE CURRENT LAW. IT IS NOT TO BE REGARDED AS LEGAL ADVICE. THOSE WITH PARTICULAR QUESTIONS SHOULD SEEK THE ADVICE OF COUNSEL.

© Lamb & Barnosky, LLP 2019

Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices Recommended Immunization Schedules for Persons aged 0 through 18 years