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Albany, New York - 13 June 2019
1. Vaccine opponents protesting in New York state capitol building
2. Protester signs
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Rita Palma, Children's Health Defense:
"These parents here today believe that it's a parent's right to choose to or refuse vaccines for their own children based on faith."
4. Protester sign
5. SOUNDBITE (English) State Sen. David Carlucci, (D) New York State Senate:
"People say 'I'm healthy, it's my choice. I can do what I want to do.' The reality is that why we ask you to get vaccinated is not necessarily just for yourself. It's to protect those that can't get vaccinated."
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6. New York state legislature in session
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Gov. Andrew Cuomo, (D) New York:
"I understand freedom of religion. We all do. We respect it. I've heard the anti-vaxxers' theory. But, I believe both are overwhelmed by the public health risk."
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8. New York State capitol building (Partly covers Soundbite #9)
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Steven Greenberg, Siena College Pollster:
"If you ask the voters, this is a no-brainer. Absolutely, it's got support from 85 percent of Democrats, 88 percent of Independents and 79 percent of Republicans. Across the board support."
New York eliminated the religious exemption to vaccine requirements for schoolchildren Thursday, as the nation's worst measles outbreak in decades prompts states to reconsider giving parents ways to opt out of immunization rules.
The Democrat-led Senate and Assembly voted Thursday to repeal the exemption, which allows parents to cite religious beliefs to forego getting their child the vaccines required for school enrollment.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, signed the measure minutes after the final vote. The law takes effect immediately but will give unvaccinated students up to 30 days after they enter a school to show they've had the first dose of each required immunization.
With New York's move, similar exemptions are still allowed in 45 states, though lawmakers in several of them have introduced their own legislation to eliminate the waiver.
The issue is hotly contested and debate around it has often been emotional, pitting cries that religious freedom is being curtailed against warnings that public health is being endangered. After the vote in the Assembly, many of those watching from the gallery erupted in cries of "shame!" One woman yelled obscenities down to the lawmakers below.
The debate has only intensified with this year's measles outbreak , which federal officials recently said has surpassed 1,000 illnesses, the highest in 27 years.
Hundreds of parents of unvaccinated children gathered at New York's Capitol for the vote to protest.
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