After our investigation, New York legislators propose law expanding access to immunization data

Wednesday, October 9, 2019
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More on the propsed law to expand access to immunization data.

ALBANY (WABC) -- Following an investigation by Eyewitness News examining school vaccination records in the Tri-State region, two New York lawmakers have announced new legislation that would make obtaining the information sought by Eyewitness News more accessible.

Eyewitness News built a Vaccine Tracker in collaboration with investigative teams at ABC Owned Television Stations across the country to identify schools and regions that lacked a 95% vaccination rate, the rate recommended by doctors to help prevent an outbreak.

Eyewitness News found several schools, including those run by the New York City Department of Education, did not always report vaccination rates for individual schools and instead reported the results of immunization surveys to state health officials by district or, in the case of New York City, by borough, making it difficult for parents to determine the vaccination rates at specific schools their children attend.

We found the method of reporting by district or area also impacted potential perceptions about vaccination rates, because the vaccination rate publicly reported often represented an average of several schools, potentially masking schools with lower vaccination rates from discovery.

Now, New York Senator Brad Hoylman (D/WF-Manhattan) along with Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowtiz (D-Bronx) has announced new legislation that would require all schools to report specific data about the student body's immunization rates and would also require the New York State Department of Health to expand the information available in a searchable database on its website.

Earlier this year, Hoylman helped pass a law eliminating religious exemptions for vaccinations in New York.

"Parents deserve to be informed about whether their child's fellow students are up to date on all their required vaccines," Hoylman said.

"As New York continues to prevent another measles outbreak, it has become clear that there is simply insufficient data for policy-makers and public health experts to adequately measure how protected individual communities are against vaccine-preventable diseases," Dinowitz added.

The Senate bill officially announced this week to amend the current Public Health Law is currently under evaluation by the Senate Rules Committee.


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