Protesters rally as lawmakers consider ending religious vaccine exemptions

Opponents of vaccinations staged a protest at the New York state capitol on Tuesday. Lawmakers are considering a bill that would eliminate religious exemptions for vaccinations, but protestors are trying to kill the bill.

“I don’t know why our healthy children are being targeted who are not ill,” one protester said.

Most of the measles cases in New York have occurred in orthodox Jewish communities, where an illustrated magazine known as the “PEACH pamphlet” has been circulating. Public health officials said the pamphlet is specifically targeting the community. For example, in 2017, an illustration showed people in modern clothes. In 2018, the image depicts an orthodox Jewish family.

The pamphlet also falsely links vaccines to autism. But the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community is that vaccines do not cause autism.

The pamphlet’s cover says it is “a project of parent’s educating and advocating for children’s health,” or “PEACH.” That organization’s website posted a statement saying it had nothing to do with the pamphlet, even though it hosted a copy on its website until last month.

CBS News found an address listed for PEACH but nobody there knew about the group.  

Some of the more established names at Tuesday’s rally included Robert F. Kennedy Jr., even though some other family members have disavowed his views about vaccines and Del Bigtree, a leading voice questioning vaccines. Back in March, he used Holocaust imagery to align himself with vaccine skeptics in the Orthodox Jewish community. Bigtree’s funding has grown.

“I have a non-profit called the Informed Consent Action Network. I would say we are being donated to by we are being donated to by lawyers, by doctors, by scientists by entertainers that all believe that this needs to be discussed,” he said.

CBS News took a look at the most recent tax filing available for his organization and saw that in one year, contributions went from a little over $100,000 to more than $1.4 million.

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