NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
BILL NUMBER: A8398
TITLE OF BILL:
An act to amend the public health law, in relation to limiting
exemptions from immunizations; and to repeal certain provisions of such
law relating to religious exemptions for certain post-secondary students
This bill would prohibit organizations and entities from permitting any
nonmedical exemption to an immunization requirement, make any such
provision null and void and remove the religious exemption for post-sec-
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section 1 amends the public health law to add a new section 2164-a to
prohibit organizations and entities that have immunization requirements
from permitting any non-medical exemption to such requirements and stip-
ulate that any provision of a law, rule, regulation or policy that
allows for a nonmedical exemption shall be deemed null and void.
Section 2 repeals subdivision 9 of section 2165 of the public health law
which is the religious exemption for certain post-secondary students.
Section 3 is the severability clause.
Section 4 sets effective date.
In 2019 the legislature passed, and the Governor signed into law, my
bill that removed all non-medical exemptions from immunization require-
ments for children who attend school (Chapter 35 of 2019). That act was
adopted before the COVID-19 global pandemic that has killed hundreds of
thousands of Americans and millions worldwide. Now more than ever,
vaccine requirements, particularly those that combat Covid (but also
other diseases), must be made as robust as possible in all settings for
our safety and the public health.
As of September 2021, an estimated 80 million Americans adults remain
unvaccinated against Covid. Just recently, Covid deaths in America
surpassed those caused by the influenza outbreak in years surrounding
1920. Public health mandates, instituted to combat diseases such as
these, have been upheld repeatedly throughout U.S. history. The majority
opinion in the Supreme Court case Jacobson v. Massachusetts (1905),
where a Lutheran pastor in Cambridge, MA defied a city ordinance requir-
ing smallpox vaccinations, stated: "the liberty secured by the Constitu-
tion does not import an absolute right in each person to be at all
times, and in all circumstances, wholly freed from restraint.
Constitution rests upon the fundamental principle of the social compact
... that all shall be governed by certain laws for the protection, safe-
ty, prosperity, and happiness of the people, and not for the profit,
honor or private interests of any one man, family or class of men."
I sponsored Chapter 35 of 2019 for the health and well being of our
school children. It would stand to reason that other settings that adopt
immunization requirements, including hospitals, workplaces, businesses,
and local governments, should not be made porous by exceptions that are
not medical in nature. This bill would help to ensure the "protection of
the people" by removing certain exceptions.
This is a new bill
This act shall take effect immediately.