Local Adult Vaccine Mandates in New York

October 12, 2019 — John Gilmore continues to be on fire with every word he writes. He wrote this over a week ago but it remains insanely important and timely. John will be speaking at the HARLEM VACCINE FORUM on Saturday, October 19th and so will Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Rev. Al Sharpton, Dr. Gary Null and many more. Don’t miss that event! – Fed Up Dem

NY: Westchester County hands over communicable disease authority

Local Mandates Coming?

Westchester County Executive George Latimer signed an extraordinary bill (in September) that hands over control of the County’s public health responses to communicable diseases to the Commissioner of Health and the appointed Board of Health, and removes the elected County Executive and Board of Legislators from the communicable disease public health decision making process.

The amended law empowers the Westchester County Board of Health and the Commissioner of Health to “issue orders, adopt provisions of the health code and take other measures to prevent communicable diseases, include those related to vaccines,” according to the text of the new law (see the full text below).  There is no qualifying language limiting the bureaucracy’s authority to public health emergencies, or active outbreaks of communicable disease, or any other conditional circumstance. It is an ongoing transfer of public health power to bureaucrats and unelected officials from an elected executive and legislators.

In a press conference Latimer implied the reason for the law was to avoid the ineptitude displayed by Rockland County Executive Ed Day in his response to the several hundred cases of measles that began in September of 2018, where he did not implement standard-operating procedures such as quarantining people known to be infected until April of 2019, and after he had issued an order banning unvaccinated children from school and public places in the county. Westchester county had 18 cases of measles.

In a press conference Latimer claimed that the new law would have no effect on vaccine policy despite the contrary language in the law, and multiple examples during the press conference provided by Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler, MD of new situations where vaccines could be ordered by the commissioner. “This allows us to be proactive and not to have to wait to declare a state of emergency to take action in case of an emerging infectious disease,”  Amler said in a statement.

Advocates in Westchester critical of the new law assert that it will allow the Westchester County Board of Health, or the Health Commissioner, to impose new mandated vaccines similar to what the New York City Board of Health did in 2015 when flu shots were mandated for daycare and pre-school students. In response, Latimer asserted that the law would not allow for new Westchester-only vaccines,  but he did not specify what law, regulation or policy would prevent new countywide mandates.

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Here is the text of the new law:

Section 261.4a-Comunicable Disease Control, In addition to all powers and rights relating to  communicable disease control granted to the County Board of Health by the Public Health Law, the State Sanitary Code, the County Charter, and any other applicable laws and rules, the County Board of Health and the Commissioner of Health are empowered to issue orders, adopt provisions of the health code, and take measures to most effectively prevent the spread of communicable diseases, including those relating to vaccinations, so long as these actions are not inconsistent with the constitution or laws of this state, or with the State Sanitary Code, or with any orders made by the State Commissioner, or Health.

See the press conference here: