“Skoufis On Your Street” Meeting Greeted By Anti-Vaccination Demonstrators
By Edie Johnson
Village of Washingtonville – Senator James Skoufis has been enjoying “Skoufis On Your Street” sessions long before he became a senator. As Assemblyman for the 99th District it was one of the favorite parts of his job, staying in touch with the community and the people he serves. But this week, at his first Skoufis On Your Street meeting as a senator, he was greeted in the front of Betty’s Country Kitchen by a group of angry moms who felt their constitutional rights have been trampled by New York’s new vaccination requirements. He spent a good half-hour with the demonstrators who were standing with posters because he had signed in favor of the new New York State vaccination requirements after measles outbreaks threatened both Rockland and Orange counties. Skoufis tried to find a middle ground, but on this day there was no middle ground. He did, however, offer to meet with the ladies at his office, at any time.
Skoufis’ position was solid, relying on pages and pages of testimonials from scientific communities who say that there are more than ample studies proving that there are no dangerous side effects from today’s measles (MMR) vaccinations and the schedule with which they are administered.
But these moms had a litany of reasons that spoke against required vaccinations. And they have been mobilizing and growing in numbers on social media, a number of the recent ones becoming nasty, with name calling and threats. And so, with notice preceding the meeting there was someone of an increased police presence in the area, just in case.
At least two of the moms said they had toddlers who already have severely challenged immune systems and genetic abnormalities and they feel the risk of inoculations is too great. They said that they have found the “so-called” medical exemption in the law to be useless. One said that her child had just been dropped from care by their pediatrician who was either unsure of the child’s qualification and/or afraid of breaking the law. Others with disabled children said the same. Still others said they have gone to great extents keeping their children perfectly healthy, and why should they, with a healthy child on a pure diet be punished. Two ladies who have been teachers for nearly 20 years complained that they would have to leave long and productive lives in the area, greatly contributing to their community, only to lose pensions, be separated from the communities they love and their children separated from their friends and highly successful school accomplishments, just to live within what they believe are their rights as Americans. Those who opposed it on religious grounds added the assertion by many, including the senator, who justify that the law is legal because “No organized religion is against it” doesn’t make sense because our Constitution says Freedom of Religion, not Freedom of Organized Religion. The ladies and their children held signs, one toddler’s sign saying “Your vote kicked me out of Preschool and my mommy can’t go to work”, another saying “I’m healthy, but Skoufis voted to kick me out of school”.
The standoff prevailed, with Skoufis saying he plans to stick with the dozens of scientists who have done years of research, while the protesters warned they were not about to give up, “We’re not going anywhere!”. Finally one of the protesters lobbed “I can’t wait until you have children!”, and James Skoufis responded “And I will get every single one of them vaccinated!”
The meeting, which took over an hour to progress to its original purpose of discussing Washingtonville local issues (most of these moms and children were not from Washingtonville), moved to an upstairs meeting room at Betty’s because of the growing numbers, and then had to move again to a back porch area where about 30 area residents had come for the original “Skoufis On Your Street” questions and comments.
Subscribe and advertise with us. It’s easy, just call 845-562-1218
(Photos by Edie Johnson)