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Midwife who gave 1,500 kids homeopathic pellets instead of vaccines put "lives in jeopardy," New York health officials say

NY health officials allege a midwife faked vaccine records for nearly 1,500 kids
NY health officials allege a midwife faked vaccine records for nearly 1,500 kids 00:28

A New York midwife who gave nearly 1,500 children homeopathic pellets instead of required vaccinations was issued an unprecedented $300,000 fine for putting "lives in jeopardy," the state's health department announced this week.

Jeanette Breen, who operates Baldwin Midwifery on Long Island, administered the pellets as an alternative to vaccinations and then falsified their immunization records, the agency said Wednesday.

The scheme, which goes back least to the 2019-2020 school year, involved families throughout the state, but the majority reside on suburban Long Island. In 2019, New York ended a religious exemption to vaccine requirements for schoolchildren.

The health department said immunization records of the children who received the falsified records have been voided, and their families must now prove the students are up-to-date with their required shots or at least in the process of getting them before they can return to school.

"Misrepresenting or falsifying vaccine records puts lives in jeopardy and undermines the system that exists to protect public health," State Health Commissioner James McDonald said in a statement.

Breen, a state-licensed healthcare provider, supplied patients with the "Real Immunity Homeoprophylaxis Program," a series of oral pellets that are marketed as an alternative to vaccination but are not recognized or approved by state or federal regulators as valid immunizations, according to the health department.

She administered 12,449 of the fake immunizations to roughly 1,500 school-aged patients before submitting information to the state's immunization database claiming the children had received their required vaccinations against measles, mumps, rubella, polio, chickenpox, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B and a host of other diseases, the department said.

"By intentionally falsifying immunization records for students, this licensed health care professional not only endangered the health and safety of our school communities but also undermined public trust," State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa said in a statement.

Breen's lawyer said Thursday that his client cooperated with investigators, paid her fine and intends to comply with all other requirements of her agreement with health officials.

"Suffice it to say, Ms. Breen has provided excellent midwifery services for many years to many families, especially on Long Island. She is now toward the end of her career," David Eskew wrote in an emailed statement. "From her perspective, this matter is over, done with, and closed and she is now moving on with her life."

As part of the settlement, Breen has paid $150,000 of the $300,000 penalty, with the remainder suspended contingent upon her complying with state health laws and never again administering any immunization that must be reported to the state, according to the health department. She's also permanently banned from accessing the state's immunization records system.

Erin Clary, a health department spokesperson, said Thursday that while parents and legal guardians had sought out and paid Breen for her services, they weren't the focus of the agency's investigation.

State health officials say they're now in the process of notifying hundreds of affected school districts.

Director of Investigations Joseph Giovannetti called the case against Breen a "first-of-its-kind investigation."

"Anyone involved in immunization fraud is on notice: Rooting out, combating, and preventing all forms of vaccination fraud is a top priority for the Bureau of Investigations, and we will continue to bring enforcement action against any offender who endangers the health of our communities and abuses our public health systems with this type of illegal activity," he said in a statement.

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