Tag: homeschooling

Did New York’s New Vaccine Law Kick 26,000 Students Out of School?

A lot of people seem to think that New York’s new vaccine law ended up kicking 26,000 students out of school.

New York's new vaccine law didn't kick 26,000 students out of school.
New York’s new vaccine law didn’t kick 26,000 students out of school.

What else do they think?

That's their choice - keeping their kids out of school because they don't want to vaccinate and protect them.
That’s their choice – keeping their kids out of school because they don’t want to vaccinate and protect them.

No medical exceptions? Have they read the new law?

New York’s New Vaccine Law

Of course, none of what these folks believe is true.

Let’s look at a timeline of what did happen in New York.

On June 13, lawmakers in New York passed A02371A, which “Relates to exemptions from vaccinations due to religious beliefs; and repeals certain provisions relating to exemption from vaccination due to religious beliefs.”

And the bill was quickly signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“Public Health Law 2164 and Section 66-1.4 of the regulations require that a child shall not continue to attend school for more than 14 days (30 days may be granted for children from out of the state or out of the country) unless the school has received a certificate of immunization, documentation that the child is “in process,” or a medical (exemption).”

School Survey Instruction Booklet Questions and Answers

What is not in New York’s new vaccine law?

There are no forced injections.

Everyone still has a choice on whether or not to vaccinate their kids. They simply can no longer to choose to send their intentionally unvaccinated kids to school if they don’t have a valid medical exemption anymore.

What about adults? There are no plans for mandates for most adults, besides maybe the requirements for flu vaccines for some health care providers.

Yeah, but the part about 26,000 kids being kicked out of school must be true, right?

Actually no, it isn’t.

That number is simply the count of kids with religious exemptions in 2017-18, over a year before New York’s new vaccine law went into effect.

But they would all have been kicked out of school if they didn’t get vaccinated, wouldn’t they?

Sure.

“While some parents who had religious exemptions plan to unenroll their kids, more are expected to bring their kids into compliance with the vaccine schedule. Karen LaCelle, a community health nurse with the Tompkins County Health Department, said their vaccine clinic has been busier than usual this summer as kids get caught up with requirements.”

More than 200 kids in Tompkins impacted by New York’s vaccine requirement change

But many did get vaccinated.

“In Saratoga Springs, the district excluded 66 students as of Sept. 20 but that number was down to about 10 students by Oct. 10, according to a district spokeswoman.”

Holding fast to vaccine objections, families grapple with unplanned homeschooling

And stories of kids leaving to be homeschool are few and far between.

“In Schenectady, over 300 students showed up at the start of the school year without all of their vaccines, and more students have joined the district since the start of school without all of the vaccines. But most, if not all, of those students have since fulfilled the vaccine requirements, said district spokeswoman Karen Corona.”

Holding fast to vaccine objections, families grapple with unplanned homeschooling

Anyway, it wasn’t Governor Cuomo or any other politician that would have been keeping these kids out of school.

The police aren't keeping this child out of school, her parents and their vaccine choice are.
The police aren’t keeping this child out of school, her parents and their vaccine choice are.

Parents have the choice to get them vaccinated and protected if they want to keep them in school.

Did New York’s New Vaccine Law Kick 26,000 Students Out of School?

Still, no where near 26,000 kids have been kept from going to school this year in New York because of their new vaccine law.

So how many were affected?

Although no official numbers have been released, it will almost certainly be closer to 260 or 2,600 than 26,000.

It seems that most parents in New York ended up vaccinating and protecting their kids and keeping them in school.

More on New York’s New Vaccine Law

Responses to New Vaccine Laws

As anti-vax folks haven’t been very successful in stopping states from passing necessary new vaccine laws, what are they doing now?

“In the Plainview-Old Bethpage School District, Superintendent Dr. Lorna Lewis says they had about 65 students affected by the change in religious exemptions. That number is now down to about 20.”

Deadline for unvaccinated students arrives in New York schools

Fortunately, many are vaccinating and protecting their kids!

Anti-Vax Responses to New Vaccine Laws

Not all of them though…

Some of the more outrageous responses to new vaccine laws have included looking to get fake immunization records and sending 'fake' kids to get tested for immunity.
Some of the more outrageous responses to new vaccine laws have included looking to get fake immunization records and sending ‘fake’ kids to get tested for immunity.

Some are fighting the laws.

In Maine, it appears that one group submitted more than enough signatures to get on a ballot that could overturn their new vaccine law that eliminated non-medical exemptions.

A bold response to a new vaccine law - trying to get it overturned.
Will voters in Maine overturn a new vaccine law?

How did they do it?

People said they were misled into signing a petition to overturn a new vaccine law in Maine.
People said they were misled into signing a petition to overturn a new vaccine law in Maine.

There are many reports that the folks gathering signatures in Maine misled people into signing.

Did signature collectors in Maine lie to get enough support for their anti-vax petition?
Did signature collectors in Maine lie to get enough support for their anti-vax petition?

When you actually look at the petition that the vaccine choice in Maine used, it is easy to see that it is basically a list of anti-vaccine talking points that often scare and mislead parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids, including that Maine’s new vaccine law:

Kinder MEs are high in most of Maine.
Kinder MEs are high in most of Maine.
  • Eliminates parents’ ability to decide what’s best for their children. – Vaccine mandates don’t force parents to vaccinate their kids. They still have a choice, even if they don’t like what their choices which no longer include sending their intentionally unvaccinated kids to school.
  • Will harm, not help, public health. – Getting more kids vaccinated and protected does not harm public health!
  • Strips parents of their right to religious freedom. – Which religions are against getting kids vaccinated and protected?
  • Prevents a minority group from receiving an education. – Since parents have a choice on whether or not to vaccinate their kids, it is not the schools or the state that is preventing intentionally unvaccinated kids from receiving an education.
  • Those who need medical exemptions cannot get them. – Every state allows medical exemptions. Under some new vaccine laws, unscrupulous health care providers can no longer make up their own rules for what counts as a medical exemption though.
  • Our childhood vaccination rates are high. – Fortunately, vaccination rates are generally high in most of the country, but that’s not the issue. It is the clusters of unvaccinated kids that are typically the problem. At the Maine Coast Waldorf School, for example, only 38% of kids had the recommended two doses of MMR!
  • Unvaccinated children are not a risk to the immunocompromised. – This is simply not true.
  • Vaccines DO cause injury. – Yes, but the risks from vaccines are small, unlike vaccine-preventable diseases, they very rarely cause severe injuries.

What are they doing in other states?

In New York, they have tried to equate their choice to not vaccinate their kids, which is what’s actually keeping those kids from going to school, with efforts to desegregate schools in the 1960s.

It's sad that these parents think that wanting to send their intentionally unvaccinated kids to school compares to the efforts to get Ruby Bridges into school and other civil rights issues.
It’s sad that these parents think that wanting to send their intentionally unvaccinated kids to school compares to the efforts to get Ruby Bridges into school and other civil rights issues.

And while some kids are now being homeschooled, some parents continued to send their intentionally unvaccinated kids to school, right up until the deadline to get vaccinated and protected, hoping their lawsuits would succeed and keep their kids in school.

They haven’t so far.

And they likely won’t in the future.

Other parents, when they lose one exemption, simply try to substitute it with another.

Are kids with true medical exemptions getting denied as schools see a lot of inappropriate exemptions for things like MTHFR?
Are kids with true medical exemptions getting denied as schools see a lot of inappropriate exemptions for things like MTHFR?

Can’t get a personal belief exemption anymore? Try a religious exemption. And when they take that away, go with a medical exemption.

Of course, that doesn’t work once schools no longer accept inappropriate medical exemptions.

What will work?

Getting their kids vaccinated and protected.

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and are obviously necessary.

More on Responses to New Vaccine Laws

Vaccines and Homeschooling Myths

Do many parents homeschool their kids because they don’t want to get them vaccinated and comply with vaccination laws?

Vaccines and Homeschooling Myths

Opponents to a vaccine law in California that removed personal belief vaccine exemptions, SB277, claimed that it would lead all children currently receiving personal belief exemptions to leave those schools and become homeschoolers.

One problem with this idea is that even though 32 states don’t allow personal belief vaccine exemptions, avoiding vaccines laws is not a top reason for why most parents choose to homeschool their kids.

“Parents cite a number of different reasons for choosing to homeschool, including concerns about the school environment and desires to provide religious/moral instruction.15 In fact, a Department of Education study says that 38.4 percent of respondents claim they are homeschooling for religious reasons,16 while Christopher Klicka suggests in his book, The Right to Home School, that it is closer to 85 percent.”

Khalili et al on Off the grid: vaccinations among homeschooled children

Instead, most parents homeschool because of:

  • academic reasons – thinking they can provide a better education for their kids at home and dissatisfaction with public or private school
  • family reasons – such as a child with special needs, not being able to get into the right school, transportation issues, or simply wanting more family time
  • religious reasons – including providing religious instruction at home
  • social reasons – including negative social activity and exposures at public and private schools

The availability of virtual education, cyber schools, and charter homeschools has likely also been a factor in some parents choosing to homeschool their kids.

What about vaccines?

In one article, Homeschooling parents’ practices and beliefs about childhood immunizations, only five parents (4%) included a desire not to vaccinate children as a reason for homeschooling.

Also, homeschooling rates are about the same in every state, just over 3% of students. A few outliers include Delaware (2.1%), North Carolina (7.7%), Pennsylvania (1.1%), West Virginia (4.6%), and Wisconsin (1.6%).

Of these states, only West Virginia doesn’t allow non-medical exemptions. But neither does Mississippi, which has very average homeschooling rates (3%).

Are Anti-vaxxers Turning to Homeschooling?

If anti-vaxxers are truly turning to homeschooling to avoid getting their kids vaccinated, we might have expected to see it happen in 2015, when California passed SB 277. That law eliminated non-medical vaccine exemptions and has been in effect since the 2016-2017 school year.

Orange County was the site of several large measles outbreaks before SB 277 took effect.
Orange County was the site of several large measles outbreaks before SB 277 took effect.

Although California is dealing with fake medical exemptions, there has not been a lot of evidence that many folks are homeschooling, leaving schools, or leaving the state after SB277 because they now have had to vaccinate and protect their kids.

“The law, however, does not apply to children who are home-schooled, a loophole that parents seem to be increasingly exploiting. Over the past three years, the number of kindergartners who were home-schooled and did not have their shots quadrupled, according to a Times analysis of state data.”

Parents who won’t vaccinate their kids turning to home-schooling in California, data show

While there were more homeschoolers last year in California (3%), the rise in homeschooling in California is also being seen in many states without new vaccine laws.

“Home-schooling mothers were concerned about SB-277 but did not report that it was directly impacting their children, their vaccine decisions, or reason to home school.”

McDonald et al on Exploring California’s new law eliminating personal belief exemptions to childhood vaccines and vaccine decision-making among homeschooling mothers in California

And, according to the Los Angeles Times, only “1.2% of the state’s kindergartners were home-schooled and unvaccinated in the last school year.”

The Homeschool Vaccine Loophole

It is also important to note that many states already have laws requiring homeschooled students to be vaccinated!

So yes, it is correct to say that the parents who are switching to homeschooling to avoid vaccinating and protecting their kids are exploiting a loophole.

“Submit proof of vaccination and receipt of any health services or examinations as required by law.”

Home Schooling in Tennessee

Interestingly, North Carolina, with one of the highest rates of homeschoolers, requires that homeschooled children be vaccinated.

Is being able to homeschool without vaccines a loophole that will have to be closed?

“And though most of their schooling may take place at home, many are part of programs that meet several times a week with other students. If one contracted a disease such as measles, they could still spread it at the park, or the grocery store, or anywhere they come into contact with other people, said Dr. James Cherry, a UCLA expert on pediatric infectious diseases.”

Parents who won’t vaccinate their kids turning to home-schooling in California, data show

It will likely depend if we end up seeing outbreaks among clusters of unvaccinated homeschoolers…

“During the six weeks after the gathering, a total of 34 cases of measles were confirmed. Of the patients with confirmed measles, 94 percent were unvaccinated, 88 percent were less than 20 years of age, and 9 percent were hospitalized. Of the 28 patients who were 5 to 19 years of age, 71 percent were home-schooled. “

Parker et al on Implications of a 2005 measles outbreak in Indiana for sustained elimination of measles in the United States.

Few people will remember the 2005 measles outbreak in Indiana that occurred mostly among intentionally unvaccinated homeschoolers and cost over $167,000 to contain. At the time, it was “the largest documented outbreak of measles in the United States since 1996.”

And it is likely that few people know about the two unvaccinated homeschooled kids in Oklahoma who got tetanus in 2012, including an 8-year-old who was in the ICU for 18 days…

What to Know About Vaccines and Homeschooling

Parents who homeschool their kids should get their kids vaccinated and protected on time and on schedule and follow all of the other AAP recommendations for preventative health care.

More on Vaccines and Homeschooling Myths

How Is California’s New Vaccine Law Working?

As clusters of unvaccinated kids in California grew and so did outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, legislators got ahead of the problem with a series of vaccine laws to get kids vaccinated and protected.

  • AB 2109 – signed into law in 2012, and in effect for the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 school years, it required parents to get a signed form from a health care provider if they wanted to get a vaccine exemption
  • SB 277 – signed into law in 2015, it eliminated non-medical vaccine exemptions and has been in effect since the 2016-2017 school year

So are all of the kids in California vaccinated now?

How Is California’s New Vaccine Law Working?

Unfortunately, some folks have found a way around the new vaccine laws.

How?

Some California doctors have taken advantage of fearful parents, and instead of doing the work to help parents understand that vaccines are safe with few risks, they are writing unjustified medical exemptions.

And since many of these parents share their fears with their friends, these intentionally unvaccinated kids often attend the same schools and use the same doctors to obtain unwarranted exemptions of their own. That results in the pockets of susceptible children we often talk about.

Some of these doctors have even created an industry out of providing medical exemptions to kids to get them out of getting vaccinated and protected before attending school. It is reported that they are selling fake medical vaccine exemptions for conditions that are not true medical contraindications to getting vaccinated!

Bob Sears is having to post about the latest measles outbreaks from the sidelines. There are very few measles cases in California so far this year.
Bob Sears is having to post about the latest measles outbreaks from the sidelines. There have been very few measles cases in California so far this year.

Still, many others have gotten vaccinated.

In fact, after years of declines, the vaccination rates for kids entering kindergarten in 2017 were at the highest rate since at least 1998!

“The proportion of students attending kindergarten in 2017-2018 reported to have received all required vaccines is 95.1%, a 0.4 percentage point decrease (difference of unrounded values) from the 2016-2017 school year and a 4.7 percentage point increase over the three years since 2014-2015. The 2017-2018 rate of 95.1% is the second highest reported for the current set of immunization requirements for kindergarten, which began in the 2001-2002 school year.”

2017-2018 Kindergarten Immunization Assessment – Executive Summary California Department of Public Health, Immunization Branch

What about the exodus from public schools that many predicted?

Orange County was the site of several large measles outbreaks before SB 277 took effect.
Orange County was the site of several large measles outbreaks before SB 277 took effect.

Or the exodus of folks California?

Neither happened.

“About 130,000 more residents left California for other states last year than came here from them, as high costs left many residents without a college degree looking for an exit, according to a Bee review of the latest census estimates.”

More people left California in 2017 than moved here. Who they are and where they went

While some people are leaving, it is typically for economic reasons.

It isn’t because folks have to vaccinate and protect their kids.

So except for not predicting that folks would try to get fake medical exemptions, California’s new vaccine law is working well!

More on the Effectiveness of California’s New Vaccine Law