A state judge has ruled against one New York county’s effort to stem a massive measles outbreak, arguing that the county cannot ban unvaccinated minors from public places.
The Washington Post reports that on Friday, Judge Rolf Thorsen issued an injunction on Rockland County’s attempted month-long ban after only ten days, ruling that the unvaccinated children were “permitted to return to their respective schools forthwith and otherwise to assemble in public places” immediately.
The ban, which the county implemented last month, was fairly controversial, mandating fines and short-term jail sentences to parents who permitted their unvaccinated children to attend schools, parks, malls, and other public spaces. But Rockland County is in the midst of a major medical emergency, with 167 cases of measles confirmed as of Friday, and officials had hoped the extreme measure would spur parents to finally suck it up and vaccinate their kids.
Anti-vaxxers reacted pretty much as you’d expect, per the Washington Post:
After Rockland County’s ban, anti-vaccination activists likened the public health measures to the Nazi persecution of Jews that included forcing them to wear yellow stars.
Still, for a short time, the ban seemed to work. Last Friday, Rockland County Executive Ed Day told CNBC they’d gotten about 500 immunizations since the ban was put in place a few days prior, and believed they’d be able to get a 93 percent immunization rate—up from Rockland’s current rate of 72 percent—by the end of April.
Thanks to Thorsen’s ruling—made as a result of a lawsuit spearheaded by anti-vaxxer parents—that’s probably not going to happen now. “The read I get on this now is that we have to wait until this gets much worse,” Day told reporters after the ruling was made public. “While that might be legally sufficient, I think it is very wrongheaded.” Congratulations to disease, the one true winner.