ALBANY, N.Y. (NEXSTAR) -- Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that removes non-medical exemptions from school vaccination requirements.
The New York State Legislature passed a bill on Thursday that would get rid of religious exemptions as an excuse for parents not to vaccinate their child. The Governor quickly signed it into law.
Opponents of ending religious exemptions for vaccines rallied outside of the Assembly chamber saying it's a 'civil liberty issue.'
"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,” Rita Palma, Children’s Health Defense, said.
As of Wednesday, the New York Department of Health says there are 336 confirmed cases of measles in the state outside of New York City.
Senator David Carlucci, who co-sponsors the bill to end the religious exemptions, says it's time to reverse the trend.
“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,” Carlucci said.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has called the issue a “public health crisis.”
"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,” Gov. Cuomo said.
A recent Siena College poll of 812 registered New York voters showed 84 percent of those polled supported vaccination requirements for children regardless of their parents' religious beliefs.
The margin of error for the poll was 4.1 percent.
“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,” Steven Greenberg, Siena College Pollster, said.
According to the CDC, the majority of measles cases in the country are in the State of New York.