Freedom of religion does not guarantee the right to infringe on the safety of others. No major organized religion objects to immunization. Religious objection has become the cover for parents who do not want to vaccinate for whatever reason if they cannot obtain a medical exemption [“Religious objection should be respected,” Letters, May 7].
To state that few people hold religious objections underestimates the danger that is posed in New York by those parents claiming religious objections. Every child who is unimmunized for religious reasons poses a safety threat to all in the community. If less than 95 percent of children are immunized, herd immunity is compromised and vaccine-preventable diseases can pose a risk to all in the community, even those who have been vaccinated. Loss of herd immunity is exactly what occurred with measles outbreaks in the Orthodox Jewish communities in New York City and Rockland County. Religious exemptions claimed for these children have compromised the safety of all in these communities, and it is only a matter of time before individuals outside these communities fall victim to measles.
Editor’s note: The writer, a pediatric nurse practitioner, is on the executive board of Vaccinate Your Family, an advocacy organization.