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New York health officials say 1,500 students will need to get their missing shots after having their vaccine records voided.
A midwife is accused of falsifying vaccination records for nearly 1,500 children, administering 12,449 fake immunizations as pretext for submitting false information to the New York State Immunization Information System, the state's health department said.
New York's public schools require students to be up to date on number of vaccinations, including hepatitis B; measles, mumps and rubella (MMR); polio; varicella; and others.
The state said these students have had their vaccination records voided and will be required to receive their missing shots before returning to school.
Officials said Jeanette Breen, a licensed midwife, began administering the fake vaccines in 2019, months after New York officials eliminated non-medical exemptions for required school immunizations.
The state's health department said Breen gave patents "Real Immunity Homeoprophylaxis Program" oral pellets. Health officials say the pellets are not approved to prevent any disease.
"Misrepresenting or falsifying vaccine records puts lives in jeopardy and undermines the system that exists to protect public health," State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. "Let it be clear, the New York State Department of Health takes this issue seriously and will investigate and use all enforcement tools at its disposal against those who have been found to have committed such violations."
Health officials noted the fake vaccine scheme began months before the COVID-19 pandemic began, which prompted some apprehensiveness about vaccines more broadly.
The state still approves medical exemptions when a child has a medical condition that prevents them from receiving a vaccine.
Breen was fined $300,000 and has already paid half of that amount. The remaining balance will be suspended if she agrees to a number of conditions, including refraining from administering any immunization that must be reported to health officials.
"By intentionally falsifying immunization records for students, this licensed health care professional not only endangered the health and safety of our school communities but also undermined public trust," State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa said.
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Those called include House Speaker Johnson, Senate Majority Leader Schumer, House Democratic Leader Jeffries, and Senate GOP Leader McConnell.