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Data from One State's Schools Provide Insight into Vaccine Exemption

Data From State's Public Schools Provides Insight into Vaccine Exemption

Data obtained from the Department of Education concerning the prevalence of vaccine exemptions in New York public schools reveals that the majority of students have been vaccinated and that it's a challenge to obtain an exemption in the Empire State, according to a recent report by WNYC News.

New York is not a state that permits "personal belief" vaccine exemptions, which are available in 20 states and may have caused "vaccination rates to plummet in parts of California and other regions across the country."

Because of health concerns, exemptions are based on religious beliefs and so-called religious exemptions, of which the system of over 1 million students only has 1,733, according to the report.

"In New York, parents who want religious exemptions must apply with 'a written explanation of the foundations for [their] religious belief opposing immunization,' according to guidelines from the city's Department of Education. It says applicants are warned that a letter 'simply indicating that [they] have such a religious belief, without any further explanation, is inadequate to support the granting of an exemption.'"

The Health Department Bureau of Immunization receives the applications from school nurses and health professionals evaluate them from there.

To give an idea of how strict the process is, the Health Department's Bureau of Immunization has rejected 23 percent of applications this year.

Overall, 98 percent of New York's public school system is vaccinated. The school with the most students exempt from vaccinations is Brooklyn New School, "where the number of students with religious exemptions has climbed to 30, accounting for much of the school’s relatively low 93 percent vaccination rate," according to the report.

However, it's important to note that most "other below-average schools don't have significant numbers of parents who withhold their children's vaccines. Their numbers tend to be low because they have partly vaccinated students — students in the process of completing various series of shots that require waiting times."

Read the full story and comment below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

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