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Court Rules Schools' Vaccination Requirements Trump Parents' Religious Exemption

Key point. Restrictions imposed by state law on unvaccinated children attending public schools may not violate parents' constitutional right of religious freedom.

A federal appeals court ruled that the constitutional right of parents to the free exercise of their religion was not violated by a state law excluding unvaccinated children from public schools under specified circumstances. New York requires that students in the state's public schools be immunized against various vaccine-preventable illnesses. The New York Public Health Law provides that "no principal, teacher, owner or person in charge of a school shall permit any child to be admitted to such school, or to attend such school, in excess of fourteen days" without a certificate of immunization. The statute provides two exemptions from the immunization mandate. First, a medical exemption is available "if any physician licensed to ...

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  • April 21, 2016

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