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Western New York families protest proposed vaccine mandates

Protesters chose to demonstrate outside the offices of two state lawmakers, for a reason.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Parents across Erie County pulled their kids out of school Thursday, as part of a statewide protest, voicing their outrage over proposed vaccine mandates for many children. 

Those families are against proposed mandates on the HPV and flu vaccinations. 

Simultaneous rallies. 

Outside the offices of State Senator Tim Kennedy and Assembly Member Patrick Burke.


Because earlier this year, both voted in favor of removing a religious exemption for school vaccinations.

And families want to know where they stand on proposed mandates for the HPV and flu vaccinations, which would impact many children.

Jenny Kupczyk of Amherst kept her daughter Josie out of elementary school Thursday.

"I don't look at this as a pro-vaccine or anti-vaccine debate. I truly look at it as pro-choice that we should be able to choose what is happening with our children," Kupczyk said.

Earlier this year, downstate lawmakers proposed legislation that would require children born on or after January 1, 2009, who are going into or already in the seventh grade get the HPV vaccine. 

The Mayo Clinic says HPV infections are often transmitted sexually or through other skin-to-skin contact.

The vaccine protects against certain types of cancer.

And the CDC recommends that by the time children are 11 years old, they get the HPV vaccine.

"It's not something that everyone believes in and some people want that choice of whether their children get that," said Jina Gentry, an organizer of the rally. 

Another proposed bill protesters are against: requiring kids who are in daycare get the flu vaccine.

"It's really government overreach, so government is starting to get involved in the medical mandates, and it's one of those questions would you trust your healthcare to a politician," Gentry said.

Added State Senator Tim Kennedy: "As a parent of three children, it is very important to me that there is parental consent when we're dealing with minors."

Does he support of the legislation?

"It's safe to say I have concerns and that we'll be reviewing them, but we'll be weighing the needs of our children we'll be listening to the medical professionals," Kennedy said.

2 On Your Side also received a statement from Assembly Member Burke which reads: "In response to today's protest, I will again reiterate the position that I have already made public. I do not support a mandatory HPV or flu vaccine, but I do think it's incredibly important to get these vaccinations. We're heading into dangerous territory when we allow ignorance and junk science to have an equal voice to medicine and scientific research."

Assembly Member Mike Norris says in a statement: "While I encourage all New York State residents to consult with their own primary care providers about major health decisions, I am opposed to the proposed initiative mandating the HPV Vaccine, as it is an alarming and extreme overreach by government and limitation of personal choice, especially at a time where New York State has significantly limited the number of individuals who qualify for an approved medical exemption."

These bills have been proposed for years in the previous legislative sessions but have not gone anywhere and they would have to be approved in the next legislative session which starts next month to become law.

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