A group of anti-vaccination opponents claim city officials overstepped their bounds — and violated their religious beliefs — by imposing an emergency order last week making measles vaccinations mandatory, according to a lawsuit filed early Monday.
The five parents, who filed anonymously in Manhattan Supreme Court, brought the case against the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and its Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot, saying the order goes beyond “the powers of the Commissioner,” and the reasons for the order “are insufficient to justify these drastic emergency measures.”
They claim the current measles outbreak isn’t serious enough to justify the order’s “recklessly short 48-hour period” that Williamsburg residents were ordered to get vaccinated by — which expired last Thursday.
The city hasn’t disclosed all the information surrounding the current outbreak, including how many cases are actually active and the number of cases that may have been caused by others who were recently vaccinated, the court documents claim.
People who are against the shots are not only forced to be vaccinated from measles, but also mumps and rubella, vaccinations “which are unnecessary and carry the risk of harm,” the court papers charge.
“Rather than using available legal mechanisms such as isolation or quarantine…respondents have imposed not only severe criminal and civil penalties for not vaccinating but have stated that persons not vaccinated ‘shall be vaccinated against measles,’ thus introducing the specter of unjustifiable forced vaccination to Williamsburg and the City of New York,” the suit claims.
The plaintiffs are suing for a temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction and a motion to vacate the city’s orders.
They say they’re seeking a solution “that would likely control measles yet balance the rights to individual autonomy, informed consent and free exercise of religion.”
“The respondents’ emergency Orders unnecessarily override the petitioners’ and their children’s religious practices and the children’s lawful exemptions from vaccination to attend school, which they have obtained in full compliance with Public Health,” the court papers allege.