Let’s start with some facts.
Across New York, there have been 867 cases of the measles since the outbreak began last fall. That means most of the 981 cases nationwide that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday are in our region.
Here are two more facts: The measles vaccine is safe and effective. And no major religion opposes vaccination.
So, New York elected officials shouldn’thave to think twice before supporting legislation to require vaccination for all children in school and day care, except for those who medically cannot be immunized.
Yet, lawmakers still cannot agree to end the state’s religious exemption for vaccination — even amid the public health crisis, and even though too many people abuse the exemption. Many are receiving hundreds of calls from people who oppose vaccination. But what about babies, and children whose immune systems are compromised, who cannot be vaccinated? They shouldn’t have to tie up a lawmaker’s phone line to get attention. .
There is still uncertainty about whether the State Assembly’s health committee will vote for the bill. Particularly important to that committee vote is Assemb. Michaelle Solages, who told the editorial board on Monday that she will vote to end the exemption. She must follow through, and other legislators should make the same promise.
Nevertheless, the outcry and vitriol are leading some lawmakers to hope to avoid voting at all. State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins claims to have the votes to pass the bill. Perhaps the Senate should vote, which could encourage the Assembly to follow suit and for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to take a stronger stance.
Hiding from this problem won’t solve it. For the sake of public health, our lawmakers’ disappointing silence must end.