Assemblyman Steve Stern (D-Huntington) announced that he supported legislation to protect public health and address the measles epidemic in New York State and across the nation by repealing all nonmedical exemptions from vaccination requirements.
New York State has been the epicenter of the recent measles epidemic, which had been declared eliminated in the United States, but which has re-appeared with a vengeance as a result of reduced vaccination rates. There have been more than 850 confirmed measles cases in New York State, including cases in Suffolk County. Measles is a highly contagious infection and can cause severe complications that may require hospitalization, measles encephalitis, which can lead to death and endangers pregnant women and their unborn children, including miscarriage and pre-term delivery. Children too young to be vaccinated, the elderly, cancer patients and those taking immune-suppressants to treat illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohns disease and AIDS are particularly vulnerable.
The current measles epidemic demonstrates the critical role that vaccination plays in protecting our public health, Assemblyman Stern said. We all rely on each other, through herd immunity, maintaining a vaccination rate of 95%, to stop the spread of diseases that pose a real risk to the health and well-being of the most vulnerable. Those who cannot be vaccinated can apply for medical exemptions, but those who can be vaccinated must be to ensure that the current measles outbreak is contained and to ensure that other debilitating illnesses, including pertussis, diphtheria and polio, remain bad memories, not living catastrophes.
I will always strongly respect each individuals right to practice their faith; however, our public health must be the priority.
Scientific research has shown time and again that vaccines work to protect us from potentially deadly preventable diseases, Assemblyman Stern said. As a parent, I know well that protecting our children and our most vulnerable from unnecessary illness and suffering just makes sense.