Ohio school to remove religious exemptions for vaccinations: 5 things to know

A school in Ohio will no longer accept religious beliefs as a justification for students to not be vaccinated amid a measles outbreak in New York and a chickenpox outbreak in North Carolina, according to a WTOL 11 report.

Here are five things to know:

1. The Hebrew Academy of Cleveland cited the outbreaks in New York and North Carolina as its reasoning for mandating all students be vaccinated. The school said it would make an exception if a physician certifies that a vaccination is medically contraindicated.

2. In the Orthodox Jewish community in New York City, more than 100 cases of measles have been reported. In one reported outbreak involving 17 children, about 14 of the patients were unvaccinated at the time of exposure.

3. In North Carolina, the Asheville Waldorf School reported 36 chickenpox cases as of Nov. 16. Asheville Waldorf has one of the state's highest religious exemption rates for vaccinations. Nineteen of 28 kindergarteners enrolled at the school in 2017-18 had a religious exemption for at least one required vaccination.

4. "There's really no good credible science for someone not to be vaccinated," Baruch Fertel, MD, a Cleveland Clinic physician whose children attend the Hebrew Academy of Cleveland, told WTOL 11. "We see from these outbreaks that it can just spread like wildfire and cause harm."

5. Dr. Fertel told the news station he believes parents choose not to vaccinate their children because prominent celebrities have advocated against it, rather than because of religious beliefs. "A lot of it has to do with prominent celebrities all across the spectrum, even some politicians have weighed into this discussion," he said, adding that "some people choose not to vaccinate because they may have read some medical literature that raised some questions. That literature has really been discredited."

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