Girl Without Vaccine Can't Go to School, Despite Doctor's Order

A kindergartner who can't have the chickenpox vaccine because she has an infant sister is being kept out of her Staten Island school, her family says.

Elizabeth Wagner says her older daughter, Frankie, can't attend class at PS 36 because she doesn't have the varicella vaccine.

The girl's pediatrician refuses to vaccinate any child who lives with an infant, Wagner says. Wagner also has a 14-week-old baby girl, Devin Elizabeth.

The doctor is concerned that exposing the infant to the vaccination, which uses a live sample of the virus, could be dangerous.

"I don't care if it's a one in 3 million chance," said Wagner. "I am not willing to take the chance with my baby." 

The family's request for a medical exemption from the Department of Education has been denied.

The pediatrician has written to the DOE, also noting that the baby might have inherited her mother's immunodeficiency disease, but can't be tested for it until she's 1 year old.

That disease would make her even more vulnerable to the virus used in the vaccine.

The DOE said the exemption was denied "after a thorough review with the parent and the student's doctor," and said the family could appeal the decision to the state.

Wagner is making arrangements for homeschooling, but in the meantime Frankie is being marked absent from school.

"I really miss it," she said. "It's so fun. And I miss the bus." 

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