Five parents filed a lawsuit Monday against the New York City Department of Health claiming the city overstepped its authority by making vaccinations mandatory in neighborhoods experiencing the measles outbreak.
The parents claimed last week’s orders violated their “children’s religious exemptions” to vaccinations and their constitutional rights to due process. They also said forcing vaccinations would put their kids at risk to harm.
“The emergency orders grossly understate the risk of harm to children, adults and the general public from the MMR vaccine, while at the same time overstating the benefits,” the lawsuit claimed, calling on the New York Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order to stop the Health Department.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the MMR vaccine is 97 percent effective in protecting people against the measles, a highly contagious disease. “Getting MMR vaccine is much safer than getting measles, mumps or rubella,” the CDC said.
Characterizing the Health Department’s mandatory vaccination orders as “unnecessary and disproportionate,” the parents claimed the city was overblowing the seriousness of the outbreak.
“There were far fewer active cases of measles than 250,” the lawsuit said. “The number of active cases is insufficient to constitute an epidemic and does not justify the emergency orders.”