Time is starting to run out for Central New York parents who haven’t vaccinated their children if they’re attending school next week. A new state law requires ALL students to be vaccinated, or to have their first dose of vaccines during the first 14 days of school. Religious exemptions are no longer allowed, but students can get a medical exemption if they're immunocompromised or allergic to vaccine components.
The Syracuse City School District sent a letter to the 60 families that previously had a medical exemption, and Director of Health Services Nancy Bailey says there’s been good response.
"The ones who have called have certainly had questions about it. Many of them have decided to vaccinate their children considering the change in law. Some of them have called and asked what their options were."
…And Bailey tells them “vaccination” or “home school.” The district serves a large refugee population, and she says there haven’t been any issues with compliance.
"We have translation services in the district, and all the providers in the area have translation services to help parents understand what the vaccine needs are. Refugee families have typically been very, very good about getting their children vaccinated."
President and CEO of the New York State Health Foundation David Sandman says higher vaccination rates have proven to prevent the spread of preventable illness and disease like measles, which recently saw a resrugence in a downstate community.
"Scientists use a term called 'herd immunity'. That requires about 93 to 95 percent of a community is vaccinated. That's sufficient to ensure that almost everybody is safe from contracting a contagious disease."
Sandman says about 26,000 children statewide had religious exemptions, mostly at 90 private schools where none of the children were vaccinated. He says families can schedule a vaccination appointment with their medical providers, or through their local county health department for a no or low-cost vaccination clinic.