By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – The mother of two 7-year-olds was fearful as this edition went to press Tuesday evening, Oct. 1, that one of her sons would be barred from Cooperstown Elementary School the following morning, even though she believed both boys are vaccinated in accordance with a new state law.
That morning, she had received an email from CCS Superintendent of Schools Bill Crankshaw directing her to remove her children from school for failing to be fully vaccinated.
Amanda Perrault, a Hartwick College graduate who works at Bassett Healthcare and lives in the Town of Hartwick, said she has a religious objection to using vaccines developed from aborted fetal tissue. (The Immunization Action Coalition reports that two cell lines from two legally aborted fetuses in the 1960s are the basis of vaccines for varicella, rubella, hepatitis A and other ailments.)
However, since the state Legislature removed the religious exemption in June, the two children have been undergoing the vaccination regimen, and are due for their final injections Oct. 16. “As far as I understand it,” she said, “it’s affected a lot of families statewide.”
Meanwhile, tests (titers) as recently as Monday, Sept. 30, showed Perrault’s two children are free of any of the feared diseases, and she believes that she is in compliance with all associated provisions of the state Public Health Law.
The email from Crankshaw included “as it was explained to me,” which caused the mother to believe that the superintendent may not understand that her children are compliant and in the process of becoming fully compliant.
Later in the day, she said she met with the elementary principal, Ann Meccariello, and school nurse Kim Stahl and explained that one of her boys is on a schedule of shots that will be complete Oct. 16. A vaccination was administered faultily to her second son, she continued, and cannot be administered again for a set period of time.
Perrault said she recognizes the need for vaccines, and while in high school at Mount Markham participated on a mission to Bolivia to vaccinate children against measles. But raised a Catholic and now a Christian, she withheld vaccinations heretofore because of her religious beliefs.
With her husband Cory fighting cancer and tending babies at home, she has no daycare option if the children can’t go to school, she said.
Reached later Tuesday, Crankshaw said “the general approach is to be compassionate and understanding, but we certainly need to defer to state law and the advice of our medical professionals” – he cited Dr. Phil Haevner, the district medical director, in his email to Perrault – “and our attorneys as well.”