In The Politics of Autism, I look at the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms have helped spread this dangerous myth. The antivaxxers have now caused a major measles outbreak in New York State.
Antivaccination groups in New York have been promoting home schooling as a way to circumvent a new state law that eliminates religious-belief exemptions for school vaccination requirements.
The New York Alliance of Vaccine Rights last week hosted a four-hour workshop called Homeschooling 101 in a hotel ballroom in Melville, N.Y., on Long Island. Hundreds of parents attended the event, where the hosts explained academic course requirements, individual home-instruction plans and extracurricular activities for home-schooled students.
Rita Palma, who organized the event, said she hoped to inspire parents to get “really creative” about what to do if vaccination isn’t a choice. She said people are forming closed communities on Facebook to discuss home schooling and exploring cooperative learning centers.
New York is now the fifth state in the country to eliminate religious exemptions for vaccination. According to the state’s department of health, 26,217 students—in public, private and parochial schools, child-care centers and preschools across the state—had religious exemptions to one or more required immunizations in the 2017-2018 school year. Under the new law, children now need to be vaccinated, receive a medical exemption from a doctor or forfeit attending a school. The vast majority, 96% of students in New York, are completely immunized.