Saturday, September 05, 2015

NY Education Commissioner Grants Religious Exemption From MMR Vaccination Requirement

In Appeal of N.C., (NYSED, Aug. 3, 2015), the New York Commissioner of Education granted a religious exemption from the public school immunization requirement to the son of a woman who had developed religious objections after her son had all of his immunizations except his second dose of the MMR vaccine.  The mother is an immigrant and a member of the Russian Orthodox Church. Her religious objections were formed after a conversation with a friend and research "on a few Bible and Christian blogs."  The Commissioner described petitioner's objections as follows:
Petitioner states that “our fate is in the hands of our Lord, even if He decides that we should have a flu or measles.”  She further states that “mortality is, and should be, in God’s hands” and thus “vaccination intercedes upon God’s rightful realm, as if being in God’s care alone is not assurance enough for us.”  In addition, petitioner states that she objects to vaccinations because they “contain cells of animal origin” which is counter to religious teachings that “blood [is] sacred” and should not be mixed “with foreign blood or any other impure matters.”  Petitioner further states that the “final straw” is that “a number of vaccines contain cells from aborted fetuses” and “abortion is clearly considered a mortal sin and is [an] abhorrent act to any Christian.”
Specifically petitioner alleged that "the MMR vaccine, the only vaccine at issue in this case, does contain human diploid cells that use aborted fetal cell lines."

The Commissioner held:
Based on the record before me, I conclude that the weight of the evidence supports petitioner's contentions that her opposition to the MMR vaccine stems from sincerely held religious beliefs.
New York Post last week reported on the decision.