Kayla Hardesty



This Note focuses on New York State specifically and proposes that all states, including New York, eliminate their religious exemption to mandatory immunization laws and maintain only a medical exemption. Part I of this Note will give a brief backdrop of the development of immunization laws in the United States and will detail the history of New York’s vaccination exemption laws. Part II will then analyze recent statistics along with the health, judicial and economic consequences created by the increased rates of religious exemptions in New York. Part III will address New York’s social distancing policy where unimmunized children are forced to leave school for extended periods of time during an outbreak of a vaccine preventable illness. The constitutionality of this policy will be analyzed through the lenses of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Finally, Part IV will present arguments against propositions that New York adopt a “philosophical exemption,” and will instead propose that New York eliminate its religious exemption to mandatory immunization.



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