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Health

More than 100 kids left vulnerable to measles, polio after nurse falsified vaccine records

Jackyenjoyphotography/Getty Images

(WEBSTER, N.Y.) -- An upstate New York nurse has been accused of falsifying vaccine records for more than 100 children across the state.

The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) issued a $55,000 penalty against Sandra Miceli, a licensed nurse practitioner and registered professional nurse at Surviving Naturally in Monroe County.

Miceli is accused of falsifying immunization records for 116 school-aged children for nearly 550 different scheduled vaccinations.

Health professionals say that by lying about the vaccination status of dozens of children, Miceli left them exposed to numerous communicable diseases including measles, chickenpox and polio.

"Falsifying school-aged children's vaccine records endangers both the child and their peers, as vaccination is the best protection against preventable disease," NYSDOH Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said in a statement this week.

"Furthermore, this is an example of how the spread of vaccine misinformation undermines the entire system that exists to protect the public's health. The New York State Department of Health will continue to investigate those who falsify vaccine records and use all available enforcement tools against those who have been found to have committed such violations," the statement continued.

Both Miceli and an attorney representing her declined an ABC News request to comment.

Miceli is the owner and operator of Surviving Naturally, a so-called "natural wellness center" in Webster, a suburb of Rochester, according to an investigation by the NYSDOH Bureau of Investigations.

From July 2019 through February 2021, Miceli provided false information to the New York State Immunization Information System (NYSIIS) about 546 vaccinations that never occurred and children who were never vaccinated, according to the health department.

The majority of children that Miceli falsely claimed had been vaccinated live and attend schools in Monroe County and Western New York, but some lived as far away as New York City, according to the NYSDOH.

All of the unvaccinated and under-vaccinated children Miceli claimed were immunized must be fully up-to-date on their required vaccinations or be in the process of receiving the missing vaccinations before returning to school or day care, the NYSDOH said.

In its investigation, the NYSDOH says they learned that Miceli would purchase a small supply of vaccines and pretend to administer doses to children. For one vaccine, she reported that she had administered 30 times the number of doses than she had purchased, according to the NYSDOH.

Miceli allegedly was a longtime opponent of vaccines and vaccine mandates, which she made clear on social media, according to the NYSDOH. On Surviving Naturally's Facebook page, officials say, she posted material claiming vaccines have "unidentified contaminants" that lead to autism, pregnancy miscarriage, cancer, and death.

"In posting anti-vaccination propaganda on social media, Miceli spread dangerous public-health falsehoods and sowed fear about vaccines at the same time that she claimed, as a licensed nurse, to be protecting public health by administering immunizations required for enrollment in schools and day cares," the NYSDOH said in a press release.

Miceli also allegedly expressed her opposition to a New York state bill that eliminated non-medical exemptions from the state's school and day care vaccine requirements. The bill was passed by the state legislature and became law in June 2019.

Miceli was fined $55,000 by the New York State Department of Health for her alleged actions, $30,000 of which she was ordered to pay within 10 days of the stipulation and order going into effect. The remainder of the penalty will be suspended as long as Miceli is compliant with the terms set forth in the order, according to the NYSDOH. Those terms include refraining from facilitating, aiding, abetting, advising, recommending, or conspiring in any scheme to misrepresent vaccination status, the NYSDOH says.

Additionally, Miceli and other staff of Surviving Naturally are "permanently excluded" from the NYSIIS, and are barred from administering any vaccine that is required to be reported to the NYSIIS, the NYSDOH says.

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