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New York's new vaccination law in effect for this school year

Students without medical exemptions have 14 days from the first day of school to receive the first age-appropriate dose in each immunization series.

NEW YORK — The new state law banning non-medical vaccine exceptions in schools comes on the heels of the nation's worst measles outbreak in several years, with more than 1,200 confirmed cases in the U.S. 

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 75% of those cases were linked to outbreaks in New York.

The new law means moving forward, districts across the state will need to be more vigilant when it comes to immunizations.

"Prior to this year, we had 11 students representing nine families who had applied for that religious exception," said Niagara Falls City School District Superintendent Mark Laurrie.

Laurrie said over the summer the nursing staff worked with those families to let them know about the changes coming and they were able to begin the immunization process.

He added, "We're pretty set in this area going forward to start the new school year."

But, despite the new law, there is still a two week buffer period for kids to get up to date on their shots.

According to the State Department of Health, "children who were not previously vaccinated will have 14 days from the first day of school to receive the first age-appropriate dose in each immunization series, and 30 days from the first day of school to schedule follow-up appointments."

The Niagara County Public Health Director Daniel Stapleton explained, "If for some reason a parent does not know that this new law is in effect and that the child needs to be vaccinated, that will give them two weeks to at least get the first dose and schedule the second dose if an additional dose is required."

But knowing how quickly illnesses can spread, we wanted to find out if allowing that two-week window could still put children in jeopardy.

Stapleton said, "There is a risk and we are very concerned about that risk, but we do support this new law and hope that everything goes the way we want it to go."  

Health leaders say unless there's a medical exception, there's no reason to put off getting your child vaccinated.

"It's not only to protect your child. It's to protect your child, the fellow students, the staff and the families that attend that school," Stapleton said.

Laurrie told 2 On Your Side the two-week window was also in place before the new law was adopted, and he believes the changes may impact other districts more so than Niagara Falls.

We also reached out to the Erie County Health Department, but the commissioner was not available for comment.

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