A woman who owns two apartment buildings said Tuesday she is planning to require new tenants to show they have received and are licensed to have a series of vaccines — a move that has the support of medical and public health groups.
Whitney Weinstein, who owns The Shorehouse at 9080 Midvale Boulevard and The Wayfarer at 9900 Green Hills Drive, said she hopes her apartment building will set a precedent in setting a minimum vaccination requirement for new residents. Her proposal, if approved, would require the minimum seven vaccinations and would not allow residents who have never had a vaccination or have less than five vaccines to live in the building.
“I believe when it comes to health and safety, there is a standard that must be met. We believe this is the standard,” Weinstein said.
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Not everyone is supportive of Weinstein’s plan.
“We are supporting vaccination but in order to do so we have to do it consistently and consistently,” said Dr. Haim Schabansky, the president of the Erie County Medical Society.
“We believe in what’s best for our health and we can only do that through healthy children.”
Weinstein’s plan is the latest shot in the escalating battle between doctors and parents on vaccination and the anti-vaccination movement.
In January, a Pennsylvania judge said that one child who arrived at a local hospital with autism-like symptoms after being vaccinated should be allowed to receive an anti-autism medication instead of getting a new vaccine. This week, the University of Virginia is being sued over a pregnancy decision which officials said could have been reversed had a woman received a recommended MMR vaccine.
A doctor’s group representing doctors in Western New York said it was not opposed to vaccines but that “no doctor should force a client to have a vaccine, if the client does not want one.”
The Erie County Department of Health said it plans to back Weinstein’s plan.
“This is the biggest change in medical practice in 40 years,” said Dr. Brian Harris, an infectious disease physician who practices in Buffalo. “Even by city standards, this is a gigantic change.”
Harris, who supported the vaccine requirement plan, said the city is struggling with several hospitals closing and medical facilities being moved out of the city.
“This will make it much easier to keep places open.”
The Greater Buffalo Nurses Association supports the plan.
“When we have the greatest number of infectious diseases around us, it only makes sense that we take our healthcare in-house,” said Kathleen Leach, the union’s president.
But Weinstein’s plan is not without critics, who say she is pushing the blame of outbreaks of serious diseases onto parents instead of sticking to the overall picture.
“There is still a huge deficiency of knowledge in Buffalo, and it is incumbent upon us to make sure we provide safety to our neighbors,” said Tom Hawkins, executive director of AIDS Action Committee of Erie County.
Weinstein said she has not faced any opposition to her proposal from tenants at her buildings.