NYVIC (New Yorkers for Vaccination Information and Choice)

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Claiming a Religious Exemption
Jessicca Hall

In past newsletters we have had articles about claiming a religious exemption from vaccinations for entry into school in New York State. Two articles were written by members of NIIN who educated themselves through exploring their resources and attending NIIN meetings. Both members consulted with Sharon Kimmelman, Director of Vaccination Alternatives, and wrote and submitted their exemptions themselves. Both exemptions were unquestioningly accepted.

Do you need to hire a lawyer to file an exemption? Legally, the answer is no. Emotionally, if you find you desire the support of legal council, that is a choice only you can make. Member experience in our group has demonstrated that a family can file an exemption due to sincere religious belief without hiring a lawyer. The key word, as stated in N.Y. State Public Health Law 2164 sub. 9 (and for college students - Public Health Law 2165 sub. 9), concerning religious exemption for entry into school is "sincere". Finding sincerity in your beliefs cannot be achieved by hiring a lawyer, making a phone call, or even buying a book. There are many resources that can guide you in claiming your exemption, but they will all be meaningless without your commitment to your choice and sincerity in your belief. If you choose to hire a lawyer or a consultant, make sure that you do not do so in order to bypass an important process of introspection. Writing your letter is a good opportunity to define your beliefs for yourself. This can be an empowering process. Members of NIIN who have shared their letter writing process with the group at support meetings have found that they gain confidence in their choice when they undertake the process of writing the letter themselves.

The goal of the Natural Immunity Information Network is to empower our members to be able to make choices for themselves and their families that they feel good about. We strive to provide honest and accurate information to facilitate their decision making process. All our meetings and speakers are to that end. In February we asked James Filenbaum, Esq. to speak regarding claiming a religious exemption in N.Y. State. We asked him because he had written letters for two of our members and has a history with the issue.

NIIN recommends that you consult with as many sources as possible before writing your exemption letter, or hiring a lawyer or consultant to assist you. Please refer to our resources page for a list of resources to contact when writing your letter. Some people may postpone the process because they are nervous, afraid, or simply too busy. Take the time now to begin, so you will be able to take full advantage of what's available to you, such as our support group meetings, which are a wonderful forum for you to share your process and enjoy the benefits of other people's experiences.

There is another aspect to the issues of exemptions in N.Y. state, the law needs to be changed. We should not have to jump through hoops to get our children into school! Presently, our group lacks the resources to undertake an aggressive campaign to change the law. We suggest you contact VACCINATION LIBERATION, listed on our resources page, if you resent the present requirements for entry into school.

See also: Defining My Spirituality

Vaccination Alternatives (a community resource since 1985) Email va-sk@juno.com Sharon Kimmelman, P.O. Box 346, New York, N.Y., 10023 voice/fax (212) 873-5051

 
 

       
  

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