NY orders mandatory measles vaccination after Brooklyn outbreak

Leslie Hanson
April 10, 2019

New York City on Tuesday declared a public health emergency and ordered mandatory measles vaccinations to halt an outbreak concentrated among ultra-Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn, becoming the latest flashpoint in a nationwide battle to try to stop the second biggest flare-up of the disease since 2000.

"This is an unusual action", New York Mayor Bill de Blasio acknowledged, "and it's because of the sheer extent of the crisis".

His order noted that the outbreak has persisted despite earlier orders "excluding unvaccinated children from attending preschools and daycare programs, because a high rate of people living within Williamsburg have not been vaccinated against measles" and this his department is "responsible for controlling communicable diseases". Anyone who resists could be fined up to $1,000.

The health commissioner said that "nearly all" measles cases in New York City have been associated with the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, and the outbreak is the largest since 1991. "We've seen a large increase in the number of people vaccinated in these neighbourhoods, but as Passover approaches, we need to do all we can to ensure more people get the vaccine".

The National Institutes of Health says reports of serious reactions to vaccines are rare: about one in every 100,000 vaccinations. While there have been no deaths, 21 people have been hospitalized and five have gone into ICU.

In the city alone, 285 cases have been confirmed - 246 of which have been in children.

"It's crucial for people to understand the measles vaccine works", de Blasio continued.

The measles vaccine, which the CDC recommends children get two doses of, is 97 percent effective, according to health officials.

Non-vaccinated minors in the county were banned from public places in a bid to prevent the spread of the disease, and hundreds of people have now been vaccinated, according to authorities. Measles is easily preventable with the safe and effective MMR vaccine.

Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Herminia Palacio echoed de Blasio's comments citing the safety and effectiveness of the MMR vaccine.

"When people choose not to get their children vaccinated, they are putting their children and others - such as pregnant women, people on chemotherapy, and the elderly - at risk of contracting measles".

The declaration requires all unvaccinated people in those areas who may have been exposed to the virus to get the vaccine, including children over 6 months old. Israel, for instance, also has a current measles outbreak. New Yorkers should make sure they have been vaccinated with MMR vaccine before traveling to Europe or Israel.

Like all but three American states, NY requires a series of vaccinations for school-age children but has until now granted exemptions on both medical and religious grounds.

City officials warned parents are holding 'measles parties, ' where they intentionally expose their unvaccinated children to an infected child in the mistaken belief that doing so is a safe way to create immunity.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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