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Scrutiny of vaccine exemptions banishes some from schools

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    In this Monday, Oct. 7, 2019 photo, Ali Hamideh plays with his 9-year-old son, Ameer, inside the family’s home in Blasdell, NY, as Ameer’s mother, Ooroba Hamideh, holding daughter Aya Hamideh, looks on. The Hamidehs say Ameer was unfairly removed from school after the district rejected his medical exemption for vaccines. New York has tightened the criteria for medical exemptions after doing away altogether with religious exemptions. (AP Photo/Carolyn Thompson)

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    In this Oct. 7, 2019 photo, the Hamideh family poses for a photo inside their home in Blasdell, NY. Parents Ooroba Hamideh, holding daughter Aya Hamideh, and Ali Hamideh, holding son Abdallah Hamideh, say their son Ameer Hamideh, who has cerebral palsy, a seizure disorder and uses a wheelchair, was unfairly removed from school after the district rejected his medical exemption for vaccines. New York has tightened the criteria for medical exemptions after doing away altogether with religious exemptions. (AP Photo/Carolyn Thompson)

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    FILE - In this Sept. 9, 2019, file photo, opponents of the recently passed legislation to tighten the rules on giving exemptions for vaccinations, demonstrate outside the office of California Gov. Gavin Newsom in Sacramento, Calif. Parents say that New York’s crackdown on medical exemptions for student vaccines is unfairly keeping children out of school. New York State officials said they did not want a repeat of what happened in California, where medical exemptions more than tripled in the three years after they became the only allowable reason for a student to be unvaccinated. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

Published October 17. 2019 05:37AM

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Carl and Kerri Schwartz say they have good medical reason for not vaccinating their disabled 11-year-old son, Thorn, and until recently his local public school went along with their family doctor’s advice.

That changed, the Schwartzes said, when New York state did away with religious exemptions for vaccines in the middle of a measles outbreak, and then clamped down on medical exemptions like theirs. Thorn is now barred from his school in Fairport while his parents challenge the district’s rejection of his exemption.

Thorn Schwartz has autism, a developmental disorder that affects each child differently, and his father said a new state policy is leaving little room for exceptions.

“It’s just so specific for that patient. If that doctor can’t tie a particular vaccination to this particular child’s body, it’s just denied. Period,” Carl Schwartz said.

Amid a flurry of proposals to end personal-belief exemptions for vaccines in states around the country, families like the Schwartzes and others say the restrictions that passed in New York have led to unbending scrutiny and, in some cases, decisions that overrule the guidance of family doctors and force children into home-schooling.

New York this year became the fifth state to require all students except those with valid medical reasons to be fully vaccinated, when lawmakers eliminated exemptions on religious grounds.

The state followed up with emergency regulations toughening requirements for medical exemptions. State officials said they did not want a repeat of what happened in California, where medical exemptions more than tripled in the three years after they became the only allowable reason for a student to be unvaccinated. California lawmakers’ efforts to rein in the numbers by giving the state greater oversight sparked expansive protests during the recent legislative session.

Another New York child who had his medical exemption rejected, Ameer Hamideh, 9, uses a wheelchair and assisted communication device because of cerebral palsy and a seizure disorder. He was in and out of the hospital for seizures after his last round of immunizations as a toddler.

The child’s neurologist, Dr. Sarah Finnegan, completed a state-required form for the Frontier Central School District recommending against additional shots because of a history of “seizure activity triggered by these immunizations.” But the district instead followed the advice of a state Health Department official who recommended against the exemption.

“The doctor who’s been in his life for nine years versus a lady in Albany that doesn’t know who he is, has never met him, just read something and said, ‘nope, we’re not accepting it,’” Ameer’s father, Ali, said.

Ameer, who is now homeschooled, has been without the physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and special education classroom placement included in his education plan.

“I can only do so much with him,” said Orooba Hamideh, his mother. “I’m not a licensed therapist. I do basic things with him, like play, but as far as therapy, I’m not equipped to do PT or OT or speech.”

Frontier Superintendent Richard Hughes declined to discuss Ameer’s case, noting only that “school districts often seek a review and recommendation from the professionals at the New York State Department of Health, and then consider that recommendation when making determinations.”

Hundreds of New York children affected by the change are in similar situations, according to Rita Palma, who co-founded the New York chapter of the Children’s Health Defense. The organization unsuccessfully challenged the constitutionality of the Legislature’s repeal of the religious exemption.

Data on the number of medical exemptions granted and rejected in the current school year won’t be available until next year, after mandatory district surveys are compiled, state health officials said. In 2017-18, 4,571 students in New York, .14%, were medically exempt from vaccines, according to the state Health Department.

The other states that allow only medical exemptions in addition to New York and California are West Virginia, Mississippi and Maine. The rest all have religious or philosophical exemptions. Maine in May removed non-medical exemptions after an outbreak of whooping cough and amid rising vaccine opt-out rates, but won’t implement the change until September 2021.

Mississippi also requires a form be completed by a licensed physician. It’s then reviewed by a state health official. West Virginia has never accepted anything but a medical exemption subject to approval by the state immunization officer.

Several other states have seen legislative proposals to eliminate personal-belief exemptions because of concerns about disease outbreaks, but they often have failed amid backlashes.

After New York eliminated the religious exemptions that allowed more than 26,000 students to attend school unvaccinated, it began requiring doctors to submit a signed form to districts specifying which vaccines a student should skip, for how long and documenting how the vaccine would hurt the child. Before, doctors weren’t required to detail on an approved form why an immunization would be detrimental to the child’s health.

“Our interest in doing so is to prevent abuse of the process and ensure only those who have legitimate medical reasons for not getting vaccinated are still able to obtain medical exemptions,” Health Department spokeswoman Jill Montag said by email. The district has the final say, she said.

In Thorn’s case, the family doctor is very much pro-vaccine but recommended against additional shots for Thorn, Carl Schwartz said.

“Our son is so frail, his brain is so fragile and so unable to recover from anything that goes through it,” he said.

Mark Frenzel, principal of Thorn’s school in the Monroe One BOCES district, wrote that the district physician had determined Thorn’s case is “not consistent with guidance” for allowing medical exemptions issued by the Centers for Disease Control.

Look at that towel headed anti-vaccine muslim . They use their litters to infect our children in chistian public schools. It's terrorism. Jihadi babies! MAGA, Please MAGA NOW!

you are offending the Diversity crowd..................

please read the article by Bruce Frassinelli |

PS Diversity SUX's
who is "we"?
Hey, I thought you shipped out to fight with the Kurds? Oh wait, there's a cease fire. Now that's called having foriegn diplomacy. Funny how you progressive liberals never made mention of the Kenyan's failure to uphold his "Red Line" policy.
The Coward Kenyan's retreat was written in the blood of Syrian civilians. Not to mention the millions displaced.
The Kenyan got a Peace Prize anticipating that?
"Joe" You Crack Me Up
Come on Joe. Ask your cousins who served in the military what they would do. Do you have a bag of plastic Army men to gain some experience with? Maybe after a few weeks you can promote yourself to General. President Trump is unconventional, but, things seem to be working out. Who else could get bleeding heart liberals to ridicule him for bringing troops home? Who else would get Pelosi to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown over the withdrawal of less than 50 soldiers? Once again, Fake General Joe, you jumped to mistaken conclusions and revealed your bias and ignorance. Keep it up.
yes I’m biased. Biased to well thought out foreign policy. Apparently 3/4 of congress is too.

Another issue where Rambo was against it before he was for it. Trump’s grip on his followers is strong
You got it wrong again. First off, Trump never granted permission to Turkey's quasi-authoritarian leader to attack our ally. Mainly because, Kurds aren't our allies. To be an ally, there must be military reciprocity. Or... we defend that state in event of attack, they promise to defend us if we are attacked. The nomadic Kurds, have zero ability to ever come to our defense.
If anything, Turkey is the US ally!
But a challenging man like "Joe" will deflect and say "Trump gave up the fight against ISIS!"
Always challenging, never correct.
Anyway, the problem has been resolved, a cease fire. You and your liberal friends have once again made asses of yourselves. Please call your commander (Pelosi), and get your next marching orders.
Which reminds me, how come you didn't go over there yourself and help your buddies? It would have been your kind of fight... NONE! You could have gone in search of Barack Obama's "Red Line", but we're not to talk of that are we "Joe".
MAGA is a great campaign "Joe", it's not to late to join us.
Trump said, "If Russia wants to get involved in Syria, that's really up to them."
Go join the fight Joe.
You worry about Turkey and Syrian border, Trump will take care of our border.
as the crowd who once chanted, "build that wall", now chants, "4 more years".
Hey, did you see that rally in Texas? Wow!
When's your rally Joe?
Interesting that trump needs to have rallies in a state that hasn’t gone to the democrats since 1976. He sees the same polls I have apparently.
All roads lead to liberal dysfunction. Your head will explode when Trump gets re-elected. Hillary blames another group of Russian operatives. Who is having a tantrum and still can not accept election results? Ha
Biased, biased against all semblance of normal reasoning, right Joe? Did you stick it to a “Trumpie” today? Trump supporters are dumber than you, and deserve to be taught a lesson by you, Joe, right?
Keep up! Ankara’s incursion has ended, and not one American life was lost. Do you serve in the armed forces girl? Do you have any skin in the fight?
Look Girl, the "People’s Protection Unit", also known as "YPG", is in fact, a terrorist group. Now you and Joe can fly over there and fight with them if you wish, but the fight was ended by the swift and wise leadership of Donald J Trump. It took, "tough love". Try Love instead of hate C-Girl.
Whacky Nervous Nancy performed her theatrics, all for nothing.
Go to this link, and watch War Monger, Nervous Nancy, make an idiot of herself...

Here's your representatives melting down and acting like the fools they are, and all for nothing.
Check out Operation Veritas on CNN. Jeff Zucker has it out for President Trump. CNN is crooked and biased against Trump. The hours of undercover video tapes show how employees were ordered by Zucker to bash Trump and pump up the impeachment narrative. CNN has been exposed for the fake news that they are. No wonder the lies of CNN put their ratings at the bottom of the barrel. Where is that collusion CNN fantasized about?
CNN has an office in the Pentagon. CNN sends their people to War Zones while the Fox bimbos sit on the sofa and spew commentary on the work done by others. Admiral McCraven said it best this week. The Republic is under attack from within. What does the military man have to say about that.
CNN is a crooked bunch of fake journalists that are so biased only fools think they are neutral. They refused to play President GW Bush’s farewell address. The moment Obama became President they stopped the daily war casualty report. Jeff Zucker hates President Trump and has a vendetta against him. Check out Operation Veratas for undercover bias video tapes. CNN is fake news. CNN spent over two years inflating Russian collusion, the Mueller Report, and now impeachment narrative. CNN & MSNBC are worthless. CNN International disparages America abroad. The press in general have room in the Pentagon. All networks, including Fox News (since you brought it up) send correspondents into war zones. Fox News has several liberal employees such as Donna Brazile, Juan Williams, Geraldo Rivera, Jessica Tarlov, Chris Hahn, Richard Fowler, Mary Anne Marsh, Marie Harf, and “the liberal Sherpa.” How many conservatives get a fair shake on CNN & MSNBC? How many Republicans collect a paycheck from CNN or MSNBC? Brent Bozell’s book Unmasked: Big Media’s War Against Trump is one book of many that touches the CNN subjective “journalism”.
CNN in the Pentagon? Smells fishy to me. I hope Brian Williams wasn't roaming the halls of the Pentagon.
The "Republic"? And you left hanging nuts embrace socialism... there's the whole ball of wax Girl.

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