NYC declares emergency over measles outbreak, mandates vaccinations

Alicia Farmer
April 10, 2019

New York's imposition of mandatory vaccination in four Brooklyn zip codes is by far the toughest action taken to date by state or local officials, as 19 states report 465 individual cases and officials elsewhere face pushback for barring unvaccinated children from public places.

New York City declared a public health emergency and ordered mandatory measles vaccinations amid an outbreak in Brooklyn, which has become the latest national flash point over refusals to inoculate against unsafe diseases. Violators could face a fine of $1,000, officials said.

"Today we are declaring a public health emergency effective immediately". Typically, the first of two doses is given at 12 to 15 months of age, though Rockland county officials have recommended that kids as young as six months get vaccinated in affected areas.

The health commissioner issued a mandate that yeshivas must keep unvaccinated children out of school.

What we do know for sure is that while the fast-spreading measles usually causes a mild flu-like illness and distinctive rash, it can sometimes lead to serious neurological problems and even death.

Nearby Rockland County, New York, is also struggling with a measles outbreak.

"That is not a tool we want to use, but it is one we will use if we have no choice", de Blasio said. "The only way to stop this outbreak is to ensure that people who have not been vaccinated get the vaccine". Since Jan. 1, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported 387 cases of measles, more than all reported cases in the U.S.in 2018. There were only two reported cases in 2017. It lays out numerous anti-vaccine arguments that have been debunked by scientific studies, such as a claim that measles, mumps and rubella vaccinations increase the risk of autism. "It is safe, it is effective, it is time-tested", de Blasio added. "It is time tested".

In a rare order, New York City is requiring residents of a heavily Orthodox Jewish neighborhood to be vaccinated for measles.

"There is no religious exemption on measles", Gary Schlesinger, CEO of Parcare Community Health Network, told WLNY. At last count, there have been 285 diagnosed cases of measles in Brooklyn and Queens, primarily among the Orthodox Jewish community.

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"We can not allow this unsafe disease to make a comeback in New York City", said de Blasio.

What else did officials say?

Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, the health commissioner there, said that since October she has been waging an uphill fight to persuade people vaccines are safe and necessary to protect the larger community.

"Measles is a highly contagious disease", Glatter said. Newborns, pregnant individuals, and those with weakened immune systems can not get vaccinated, so it is important that everyone around them be vaccinated in order to protect them from contracting the virus and prevent severe complications in these susceptible populations.

Others remain convinced, against expert assurances, that vaccines are unsafe.

"We're concerned about families having measles parties", she said.

What about the nationwide outbreak?

Meanwhile, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention elevated its response to measles, establishing a larger team to focus on outbreaks that have sickened 465 people nationwide this year - the second-greatest number of cases reported in the US since measles was eliminated domestically in 2000.

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