National Cancer Institute

The number of people vaccinated against human papillomavirus in Monroe County has grown, though it’s still below the levels sought by government officials and vaccine advocates.

The increased vaccination rates come amid an effort by the New York state legislature to move forward a bill that would make immunization against HPV mandatory for children 11 years and older to attend school.

Paul Vernon / AP

A state appeals court in Seneca County has upheld New York’s elimination of religious exemptions to vaccine requirements.

The ruling from State Supreme Court Justice Daniel Doyle rejected claims that eliminating the exemptions was an unconstitutional infringement on religious rights.

Brett Dahlberg / WXXI News

U.S. Rep. Joe Morelle is sponsoring two bills that he said will increase the number of children who get vaccinated against preventable diseases. 

The Vaccinate All Children Act would block some federal funding for states that allow religious exemptions to vaccines.

Brett Dahlberg / WXXI News

“We’ve been inundated,” Kristen Wagner said as she unpacked vaccines inside the Yates County public health offices in Penn Yan.

“We’re trying the best that we can,” she said, continuing to set cartons of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine on top of a tray that was already too full to fit any more.

Wagner and her colleague Chelsea Bailey were just back from a trip to Mennonite homes scattered across the largely rural county.

Brett Dahlberg / WXXI News

Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo and public health commissioner Michael Mendoza on Wednesday urged families to get their children vaccinated in time for the school year and announced extended hours at the county’s immunization clinic.

New York State is joining a growing list of states that have banned religious exemptions for vaccines. And while the state passed the ban this year, most of the delegation representing the Rochester and Finger Lakes area voted to save religious exemptions.

Many local doctors have expressed their frustration about that. They join us to discuss the state of vaccines. Our guests:

  • Dr. Elizabeth Murray, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics and pediatrician at Golisano Children’s Hospital
  • Dr. Steve Cook, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics and pediatrician at Golisano Children’s Hospital
  • Dr. Michael Mendoza, M.D., Monroe County Public Health Commissioner

Alissa Eckert / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Two people in Livingston County have come down with mumps, according to health officials there.

Both live in the county, and both were fully vaccinated, said Kathy Root, who directs patient services for the county health department.

Two vaccinated people in one county contracting the disease is statistically unlikely, but still possible, Root said.

“No vaccine is 100 percent effective,” said Root. “But we have to keep vaccination levels high if we want to prevent further spread.”

When an 18-year old decided to get vaccinated, against his parents' wishes, his story went viral. And it sparked questions beyond his family: What does the law say for younger children whose parents won't get them vaccinated? What rights do they have? What exemptions are appropriate, and which are not?

Our guests explore the current national conversation on vaccines, particularly as it relates to rights and exemptions. In studio:

  • Dr. Deborah Pierce, M.D., clinical associate professor of family medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center
  • Dr. Neil Herendeen, M.D., member of the University of Rochester Medical Faculty Group
  • Dr. Larry Denk, M.D., medical director of Rochester General Pediatric Associates

Brett Dahlberg / WXXI News

With more measles cases in the last month than in the entire previous decade, Monroe County health officials urged parents to take action.

A growing number of parents in the Rochester area – and across the state and country – are choosing not to vaccinate their children, said county public health commissioner Michael Mendoza.

Juan Vazquez and Brett Dahlberg / WXXI News

An outbreak of measles in Monroe County – the worst since the state health department began tracking yearly data – has now sickened seven children.

There is one clear commonality: “The important through-line that connects all of these – all seven measles cases in Monroe County – is that all seven of them are unvaccinated,” said Ryan Horey, the county health department’s public information officer.