New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio Orders Vaccinations Amid Measles Outbreak

Leslie Hanson
April 10, 2019

The order concerns all people living or working in four zip codes of Williamsburg, northwest Brooklyn, where some residents oppose vaccines on religious grounds - although neither Jewish texts nor local Jewish authorities advise against vaccination.

For those who need help getting the vaccine, the city has said that it will offer assistance.

"Our goal is not to fine people or shut down schools", de Blasio said.

"I understand that parents may be afraid of getting their children vaccinated", New York City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot said at the news conference.

As skepticism over vaccines has increased in recent years, the number of cases of preventable diseases has spiked accordingly.

A total of 465 cases of measles have been confirmed in 19 states from January 1 to April 4. "Our goal is to vaccinate people".

The outbreak has been centered in Williamsburg's large community of Orthodox Jews.

"This outbreak is being fuelled by a small group of anti-vaxxers in these neighbourhoods", Dr Barbot said. "They have been spreading unsafe misinformation based on fake science", said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. "People who are immunocompromised, as well as young children and non-immune pregnant women are at highest risk for severe complications".

"If people ignore our order", he added, "We will issue fines".

The order is signed to remain in effect until the next meeting of the New York City Board of Health on April 17 at which time "it may be continued or rescinded by the board". Israel, for instance, also has a current measles outbreak. "This is a public health emergency". People who haven't received the measles vaccine or don't have evidence of immunity could be fined up to $1,000. Measles is easily preventable with the safe and effective MMR vaccine. "This is the epicentre of a measles outbreak that is very, very troubling and must be dealt with immediately", he said.

"And it's everybody's option to do what he wants".

The city has also threatened to shut down yeshivas, or traditional Jewish religious schools, if they do not follow an order to keep unvaccinated children out of class.

While it is possible to become infected with measles post-vaccination, the Mayo Clinic says it is unlikely, provided the immunizations are up-to-date.

"We urge everyone who can get vaccinated to get vaccinated", Barbot said.

Another Jewish religious community, north of the city but with close ties to Brooklyn, has also seen a surge, with at least 166 cases since October.

Tuesday's announcement was the first time NY has ordered mandatory vaccinations in recent history, according to health officials.

"CDC strongly recommends against hosting or participating in these events", the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) write of a disease far less unsafe than measles.

"Measles are highly unsafe and contagious", Councilmember Stephen Levin, whose district includes Williamsburg, told the Brooklyn Eagle.

County Executive Ed Day, a Republican, said Tuesday that Rockland planned to appeal and is crafting a new order created to isolate people exposed to measles.

And throughout the press conference, city officials reiterated the safety and effectiveness of the measles vaccine, with the city's chief physician describing an annual national death toll that reached into the hundreds before the measles vaccine was invented. MMR is available from your family practice and is free to eligible persons.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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