Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a radio interview on Friday morning applauded Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s push for a bill that ended the religious exemption for vaccinations in New York after a close vote in the chamber.
The vote was marked profanity-laced protests from anti-vaccine advocates and the bill’s near-failure in the Assembly Health Committee.
“I think they had an effect,” Cuomo said of the dozens of protesters at the Capitol. “I applaud the Assembly speaker for getting it done, but it was a tough vote.”
The vast majority of voters, more than 80 percent in a Siena College poll this week, backed the proposal to end exemption, proposed amid a measles outbreak in Brooklyn and Rockland County.
“Public health comes first,” Cuomo said. “I understand the concern of the anti-vaxxers, but I think public health comes first.”
Public health officials roundly agree that vaccines for health people are needed to create herd immunity to protect unhealthy people from disease.
Cuomo chalked up the close vote in the Assembly to the “high decibel level” of the protesters.
“I think we’re at a time in politics and society where feelings are very strong about everything,” he said. “There are no tepid feelings. Politicians are very sensitive to opposition.”