Five parents have filed a lawsuit against city officials, claiming New York City's mandatory measles vaccination order last week was unjustified and in violation of their religious belief, the New York Post reported.
A public health emergency was declared in parts of Brooklyn in response to a measles outbreak, requiring unvaccinated people living in the affected areas to get the vaccine or face fines. Referring to the order's "recklessly short 48-hour period," vaccination opponents claimed in the suit the current measles outbreak was not serious enough to warrant the "unjustifiable forced vaccination."
The lawsuit, filed Monday in the Brooklyn Supreme Court by Orthodox Jewish families, came mere hours before an Orthodox daycare center in Williamsburg was shut down after failing to allow health officials to inspect its medical records. In addition, 23 yeshivas and daycare centers were slapped with citations after they violated orders to keep unvaccinated children away from students, the Daily News reported.
In the court documents, the families argue there was "insufficient evidence of a measles epidemic or dangerous outbreak to justify the respondents' extraordinary measures, including forced vaccination."
Speaking on behalf of the families, lawyer Robert Krakow said the parents were well within their rights to make health decisions for their families and blamed officials for issuing the immunization order instead of quarantining those believed to be infected first.
"Rather than using available legal mechanisms such as isolation or quarantine . . . respondents have imposed not only severe criminal and civil penalties for not vaccinating but have stated that persons not vaccinated 'shall be vaccinated against measles,' thus introducing the specter of unjustifiable forced vaccination to Williamsburg and the City of New York," the suit claimed, per The New York Post.
Krakow told the Daily News there were multiple dangers stemming from the city's order.
"There's the harm to my clients' rights — their religious freedom," he said. "I think it harms the vaccination program because it promotes public distrust."
Mayor de Blasio said the city, which has seen 284 confirmed measles cases among children in Brooklyn and Queens since last October, was feeling confident about its legal position.
"This is something the law department feels strongly about it, everything's been done here fully within our legal rights obviously in the midst of a real health challenge," he said, according to the Daily News.
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