Citing an "unprecedented measles outbreak," a federal judge has refused to issue an injunction that would have forced Rockland County, N.Y., health officials to allow 44 unvaccinated children to go back to class at the Green Meadow Waldorf School in Chestnut Ridge, N.Y.
Lohud.com reports that the court ruling came in a lawsuit brought by parents of students at the private school who have challenged the Rockland Health Department's order barring the unvaccinated children from school.
"The plaintiffs have not demonstrated that public interest weighs in favor of granting an injunction," U.S. District Court Judge Vincent Briccetti said from the bench.
Rockland County is experiencing the longest outbreak in the state since measles was officially eliminated from the United States in 2000; a total of 145 cases have been reported since last October, and three more suspected cases are under investigation.
"While no one enjoys the fact that these kids are out of school, these orders have worked," says Rockland County Attorney Thomas Humbach. 'They have helped prevent the measles outbreak from spreading to this school population."
The lawsuit contends that Health Commissioner Patricia Schnabel Ruppert's order violates the families' religious objections to vaccinations and is unnecessary because the cases have been largely confined to insular Hasidic Jewish communities.
The parents argue that throughout the measles outbreak that started last fall, no cases have been reported among any of the school's excluded children.
The outbreak, which has mostly affected the Orthodox Jewish community in Spring Valley, Monsey and New Square, prompted Ruppert to impose an order in December that schools in the 10952 and 10977 ZIP codes with vaccination rates under 95 percent must keep unvaccinated children from attending.
The county's Law Department says the school's vaccination rate was about 33 percent when the December order was imposed. It subsequently has risen to about 56 percent.