Supreme Court voids rulings that allowed student to skip vaccinations

The Supreme Court has struck down a challenge from medical professionals that they could no longer impose their religious beliefs on patients as it relates to the use of a vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella.

The justices voted 8-1 to block injunctions against the New York city and state.

The decision, handed down Friday, said the American Civil Liberties Union of New York and four medical professionals had failed to show it was “unreasonably delayed” for a child to receive a vaccine against a disease, when it was already protected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s schedule.

The court also said it wasn’t needed to consider the issue of undue burden as religious objections to the vaccine haven’t faced limits “as would be found in mandating vaccination as a condition of public attendance in a government school.”

Among the plaintiffs is the director of the Riverdale Jewish Center in Riverdale, New York. The ACLU is standing by its position that the vaccination violates the health care providers’ right to freedom of association.

The ruling is a win for the city and state, which rely on vaccinations to curb the disease’s spread. The New York City Health Department’s Immunization Coverage Status Report indicates 92% of children are fully vaccinated in the city.

Doctors representing patients in the initial case said that in many cases vaccinations are needed to protect the immune system of people already at risk of developing diseases like measles.

“Too many children will now go unvaccinated because they fear being affected by information that is being provided on websites and in religious circles,” ACLU Legal Director Susan Sommer said. “We will continue to protect people’s rights to decide for themselves if vaccines can do the job, just as we want them to have the information they need to make responsible health decisions. But we also must protect people’s right to look to the internet to find reliable information, not believe untested and misleading information that originates from fringe fringe sources.”

The original case was launched after a 12-year-old girl required three shots before she could start seventh grade but the rules prevented her from receiving the second and third vaccines without being enrolled in a school. The girl wanted to enroll in her public school so she could participate in church and go to religious services, and the judge granted the injunctions.

“We cannot rewrite the law to accommodate health care professionals,” the judge wrote in his decision.

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