I have spent hours discussing this issue with citizens advocating retention of the religious exemption. Formerly I was a supporter of the religious exemption.
However, from these discussions, it has become clear to me that at least 90% of those advocating for the religious exemption are arguing against vaccines based on their own research and opinions that vaccines are harmful. That is not a religious claim. That is a claim that the medical and scientific community is wrong, even though vaccines have contributed to dramatic improvements in public health in the 20th century.
In this country, we have the Federal Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control, and other bodies that monitor vaccines. New York State does not monitor the science of vaccines.
The Centers for Disease control have specified that there are in fact persons whose medical history dictates that the vaccines not be administered to them. I believe the medical exemption should be clarified so that, if a qualified physician determines, based on a review of the medical record, and physical examination, that a child meets one of the criteria for exemption from a vaccine as provided in the protocols of the CDC, then the child should be exempt from vaccination unless and until government establishes that the physicians opinion was unreasonable in light of the medical record.
The March of Dimes recently visited my office and advocated on behalf of children who had been grievously harmed by being in the presence of unvaccinated chidden. I agree with the March of Dimes that vaccination is for the greater good of the public. That is why I voted to eliminate the religious exemption and will support strengthening the medical exemption.