City backs off threat to jail parents who won’t vaccinate kids against measles
New York Post
The city has yanked its threat of criminal charges and even jail for people who don’t vaccinate their children against measles, it was revealed in court Thursday.
News of the move surfaced during a hearing between the city and a lawyer for parents who sued over the Health Department’s emergency order requiring children to be vaccinated. Lawyer Robert Krakow, who filed the suit Monday on behalf of five parents opposed to the city’s April 9 order, is asking a judge to nix the entire directive.
Krakow brought up the issue of potential criminal charges at Thursday’s hearing, prompting the city’s lawyers to acknowledge that a new order was issued a day earlier, after a Board of Health meeting, which no longer contains language that threatened such penalties.
“We are taking the Board of Health’s view that this would be enforced civilly,” said Thomas Merrill, a lawyer with the Health Department.
Krakow lauded the new order after court — and credited his clients’ lawsuit for it.
“I think it’s a major win,” he said.
As anti-vaxxer supporters cheered on, the lawyer added that now, people who have religious objections to getting the shots for their children “don’t have to worry about walking down the street or showing up in this courthouse today and being arrested or being handed a summons … being subject to a misdemeanor and imprisonment. That’s out.
“I believe that the lawsuit highlighted the extreme nature of the orders including criminal penalties and it was after we filed the lawsuit that on Monday the city first started saying, ‘We are not enforcing the criminal penalties,’ ” the lawyer said.
The original April 9 order had included a warning that said, “Failure to comply with this order is a violation … of the New York City Health Code, and a misdemeanor for which you may be subject to civil and/or criminal fines, forfeitures and penalties, including imprisonment.”
With potential criminal ramifications off the table, Krakow said, the city still must address what he called “excessive” fines under the order.
“We don’t think a $1,000 fine was reasonable,” Krakow said.
The judge said he expects to rule on Krakow’s request for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction by Friday.