A Lindenhurst family recently sought to exempt a child from the New York State meningitis vaccine requirement for high school students. The story was shared on social media — and some people asked why the requirement exists.
While the requirement took effect in 2016, many seem to have forgotten how the law came to be.
One story I’d like everyone to remember is Kimberly Coffey’s. She was a beautiful, lively East Islip High School senior who caught meningitis a few days before graduation in 2012. She tragically died within hours. Her mother, Patti Wukovits, a friend and colleague, has since fought to protect New York students from meningitis by working with the state Department of Health and legislators to implement this immunization requirement for students entering seventh, eighth and 12th grades.
It’s because of this dedicated mother and the many victims of meningitis that New York began enforcing this recommendation.
There will always be students who cannot receive vaccinations because of medical contraindications. It’s imperative to adhere to strict guidelines to determine who can be exempted. If there is a true medical contraindication, I hope that this current student is able to have the situation clarified.
Melody Butler, Lindenhurst
Editor’s note: The writer is the executive director of Nurses Who Vaccinate, an advocacy organization.
New York workers need help with child care
Many families rely on grandparents to babysit because quality child care is hard to find and even harder to afford.
A 2017 report from Child Care Aware, a national education and referral organization, says that child care in New York is the most expensive in the country. Less than 22 percent of eligible working families receive a child care subsidy, and tax credits are insufficient to truly help middle-class families afford the high cost. Yet, almost 60 percent of child-care workers in New York earn wages that put them below the poverty threshold and make them eligible for public assistance.
As a result of the cost, many parents rely on family, friends and other informal arrangements. But what happens to families that do not have a grandparent available? How do those parents earn a living and make sure their children are safe and cared for?
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo needs to uphold his repeated pledge to support working families by adding $31 million to subsidize child care as a first step, plus investments toward quality and workforce development. Child care is more than just a work support. There is extensive evidence of the benefits of quality child care. It’s time to value the important role child care plays in our economy and the success of the next generation.
Editor’s note: The writer is associate executive director of the Child Care Council of Suffolk Inc., an advocacy and referral agency.