New York stops parents using religion to not vaccinate school children against measles

Parents in New York will no longer be able to cite religious grounds to get their children out of mandatory school measles vaccinations.

New York state is currently facing one of its worst ever outbreaks of measles and to address the issue, the state's Democrat-led Senate and Assembly voted on Thursday (local time) to stop religious exemptions for school children.

That means parents will no longer be able to use religious grounds to bypass the state's requirement that every child attending school be immune to measles.

The law, which will take effect immediately, will allow unvaccinated students up to 30 days after they begin at a school to get the necessary dose of immunisation.

The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention says 1022 individual cases of measles across 28 states were reported up to June 6 - the highest number since 1992.

It is hoped the new measure will prevent the disease spreading among children, but some activists said the state's decision curtailed religious freedom.

"People came to this country to get away from exactly this kind of stuff," Associated Press reported Stan Yung, a father with Russian Orthodox religious views, as saying.

Democrat Jeffrey Dinowitz, who supported the new legislation, disagrees and said religion wasn't connected to measles vaccines.

"I'm not aware of anything in the Torah, the Bible, the Koran or anything else that suggests you should not get vaccinated."

"If you choose to not vaccinate your child, therefore potentially endangering other children... then you're the one choosing not to send your children to school."

Children with medical reasons to not be vaccinated will still be allowed such an exemption.

It comes as New Zealand also sees rising cases of measles. The Government has previously said it wouldn't force children who weren't vaccinated to stay away from school.

Earlier this week, the Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) announced Auckland children would be able to get vaccinated from 12 months old, rather than 15 months.