Rockland parent says he will fight against MMR vaccine or move out of state

Posted: Updated:
SLOATSBURG -

A Rockland parent says he will fight for the right not to vaccinate his children against the measles – or move out of New York.

New York passed a law last week that banned religious exemption for school-aged children. New York is the fifth state in the nation to adopt the controversial law.

There are now more than 1,000 measles cases in 28 states, according to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This marks the largest number reported in the United States since 1992.

Joseph Hendrick, of Sloatsburg, says it's against his religion to vaccinate his three children against the measles.

“I don't believe I should be forced to vaccinate my kids because, one, it's not going to be health benefit for them if you look into the work of it, the science of it. I obviously have a religious exemption for a reason, we don't believe that by God we should have to do this,” he says.

Hendrick says if they are not going to let his children in, he is going to either have to home school them or move out of state.

Hendrick says he will first try to sue the state with the help of civil rights attorney Michael Sussman.

Sussman says there have been hundreds of people calling his office, crying and concerned about their children.

He says the ban violates First Amendment rights, adding the state's argument that no organized religion disallows vaccinations is flawed.

“Religion is personal matter. The Supreme Court of the United States has repeatedly said that it's measured by an individual belief. It's not measured by organized religion,” says Sussman.

Sussman says he plans to sue the state in the next two to three weeks.

Local and national health officials, along with major medical institutions, say vaccinations are safe, effective and essential in preventing disease and stopping the outbreak. They say the best preventative action against measles is to get the MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella.

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