WILSON, N.Y. — While Gov. Andrew Cuomo spent time in Niagara County on Tuesday, he was confronted by a mother who is against the new religious exemption ban for school immunizations.
"You were supposed to uphold our religious beliefs and our religious pride and our religious convictions," the mother said to Cuomo.
The woman, who didn't want to give her name, was referring to the new state law passed over the summer that doesn't allow religious exemptions for vaccine mandates in schools.
The decision came on the heels of one of the nation's worst measles outbreak in recent years, with more than 1,200 confirmed cases. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevent, 75 percent of the cases were in New York State.
The woman's exchange with the governor lasted about four minutes, where she declared, "Measles, we're not afraid of it. It's something God created on this planet. Unless it was man-made. It's not. It's something that God put on this planet. It's not a disease. It's a virus."
Cuomo responded to her point by saying, "I understand that the vaccinations are a very polarizing issue. I also understand the overwhelming number of people in this state are afraid of their children getting a disease."
The mother isn't alone in her belief. Earlier this month, hundreds of so-called "anti-vaxxers" protested outside the state capitol.
However, Erie County Commissioner of Health and Pediatrician, Dr. Gale Burstein, says that science isn't up for debate.
"We have to make sure that we protect our community," Burstein said. "We protect our children. They're our most precious commodity. From a scientific, public health standpoint, since we know these vaccines are highly scrutinized for safety, there's really no reason other than medical not to get immunized."
Medical exemptions are still allowed under the new vaccination law.
American Academy of Pediatrics: https://www.healthychildren.org/english/health-issues/vaccine-preventable-diseases/pages/default.aspx
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Vaccines: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines