A federal judge in New York denied a request that would have allowed 44 unvaccinated children to return to school on Wednesday.
Citing an “unprecedented measles outbreak,” District Court Judge Vincent Briccetti said the parents had failed to demonstrate “that public interest weighs in favor of granting an injunction,” according to the Rockland/Westchester Journal News.
Last December, amid a measles outbreak, public health officials in Rockland County took the bold step of banning unvaccinated kids from the classroom at schools with less than 95% vaccination rates.
The parents from the Green Meadow Waldorf School sued.
“While no one enjoys the fact that these kids are out of school, these orders have worked; they have helped prevent the measles outbreak from spreading to this school population,” Rockland County Attorney Thomas Humbach said after the judge’s ruling at the Federal District Court in White Plains.
Although measles was eliminated from the U.S. in 2000, outbreaks of the viral infection have sprung up across the country, especially in places with pockets of unvaccinated people like the Pacific Northwest. New York has experienced a particularly severe outbreak, mostly affecting an Orthodox Jewish community who may not seek vaccines for religious reasons.
The number of unvaccinated children in the U.S. has skyrocketed since the early 2000s, in part due to growing anti-vaccination sentiment. The ‘anti-vaxxer’ movement believes that vaccines are unnecessary and may cause autism, despite numerous studies to the contrary.
Measles is a highly contagious viral infection that can cause a high fever, cough, runny nose and rash, and can be fatal in young children.