Judge Denies Vaccination Exemption For School Admission

BROOKLYN -

A federal judge told a mother that a school was within their rights to deny her daughter entry into class since she refused to vaccinate her.

Dina Check, of Staten Island, said that as a Catholic, her religion prohibits her from giving her 5-year-old child her range of immunization shots. The school, PS 35, refused to admit her, citing the potential danger to other children if she gets sick, the New York Post reported.

Check applied for an emergency injunction to force the school to allow her daughter admission while the lawsuit against the city is pending, claiming that the school was discriminating against her religion.

However, Judge Sandra Townes of Brooklyn Federal Court denied it.

“This court has no doubt that [Check] is a deeply religious
woman whose religion plays an important, and even central, role in her life,” Townes wrote in a brief. “However, not every belief held by a religious person is a religious belief.”

Townes added that Check’s testimony earlier this year that she was worried to vaccinate her daughter since she suffers from immune deficiencies and gastrointestinal problems proved that it was not a religious issue but an overprotectiveness.

“The court concludes that [Check’s] aversion to vaccinations for her child stems from her personal fear for her child’s well-being and not a religious belief such that she is entitled to a religious exemption,” she wrote.

The first-grader, who is currently home-schooled, has been barred from class since February.

The ruling comes as measles is making a comeback in Orthodox communities in Boro Park and Williamsburg. A letter from the New York City health department released last week Tuesday revealed that 34 cases — the vast majority in Boro Park — have turned up in those heavily Orthodox communities in Brooklyn.

The letter, signed by Drs. Jennifer Rosen and Jane Zucker of the city’s Bureau of Immunization, warned that, “additional cases will likely occur, because a large number of children and adults have been exposed to infectious cases.”

“All cases are part of the Orthodox Jewish community and were unvaccinated at the time of exposure,” the memo said, “including five cases too young to have been vaccinated, 23 cases who refused vaccine, and six cases whose vaccines were delayed.”

The letter said that the results of the current outbreak include several cases of pneumonia, a miscarriage and two hospitalizations.

Monsey became the latest area to be penetrated by the measles virus, when an infant was diagnosed this week. The Rockland County health department said that what was particularly worrisome was the fact that the infant had contact with several people in three stores last week.

The infant, who was not identified, was in Hatzlacha Grocery at 126 Maple Avenue in Spring Valley last Wednesday between 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., and Toys 4 U and Supreme Health Food Center, both at 27 Orchard Street in Monsey, last Monday between 6:00 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.

Officials want anyone who was in those stores at those times should be placed on a health watch and contact the township.

Acting Health Commissioner Kathleen Henry told CBS News that the child likely became infected from someone in Brooklyn. The virus was brought over to New York by an Orthodox family in Britain who was in New York for Pesach. One of the children, who was not vaccinated for ideological reasons, has since departed the country but left behind the measles.

Outside Orthodox areas in New York, an aggressive regimen of vaccinations have virtually knocked out measles in this country. Symptoms include fever, a red rash and swollen eyes.

Dr. Reuven Shanik, a leading pediatrician in Lakewood, told TheLakewoodScoop.com on Wednesday that there have not been any cases of measles reported in Lakewood.

But a different doctor told the Scoop that with the disease being so highly contagious, Lakewood, as an Orthodox neighborhood, remains at risk.

“The original cases of this outbreak spread from England in the frum communities there, where many people are not vaccinated against measles,” said the doctor, who was not named. “Measles spreads like wildfire in unvaccinated populations and the Lakewood community is certainly at risk.”