Judge bars unvaccinated students from returning to Rockland County school

Judge weighs in on vaccination debate

A federal judge in Rockland County, New York has jumped into the simmering debate over measles vaccinations. With cases rising, the judge barred 50 unvaccinated students from attending the Green Meadow Waldorf School for at least three weeks.

Parent Beatrice Burgis agrees with the judge's ruling that would keep unvaccinated kids at home.

"I believe that he's trying to mitigate a potential further outbreak and he's trying to keep everybody safe," she said.

On Tuesday, a new case in Rockland County brought the total to 146. This year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 228 cases in 12 states. The Rockland County outbreak was centered in an Orthodox Jewish community.

Almost all states allow exemptions for religious beliefs, and 17 states allow a parent to opt out for philosophical or personal reasons. One of those states is Oklahoma.

"A lot of the legislators think that mandating vaccinations is big government," said former Oklahoma state legislator Dr. Ervin Yen.

Yen attempted to ban or restrict the non-medical exemption law in his state.

"In Oklahoma I think it's going to take an outbreak of something like measles where somebody dies unfortunately," Yen said.

Before the introduction of the measles vaccine in 1963, there were more than 500,000 cases each year, causing hundreds of deaths. After 1963, those numbers dropped dramatically.

"They don't know that measles can cause encephalitis which of course is inflammation of your brain. I don't know about you but I don't want my brain inflamed," Yen said.

Last week, New York state Sen. Liz Krueger introduced a bill allowing any child 14 years and older to be vaccinated without parental consent. Other states including Oregon and South Carolina already have similar laws.

  • Jon Lapook
    Jonathan LaPook

    Dr. Jonathan LaPook is the chief medical correspondent for the CBS Evening News. Follow him on Twitter at @DrLaPook