NY orders mandatory measles vaccination after Brooklyn outbreak

Bill de Blasio

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New York Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a public health emergency on Tuesday that requires unvaccinated individuals in the largely Orthodox Jewish community of Williamsburg - where 285 people have been diagnosed with measles since last fall, and almost two dozen hospitalized - to get the measles vaccine or face citations or fines of up to $1,000. "We stand with the majority of people in this community who have worked hard to protect their children and those at risk".

Measles is one of the most contagious infectious diseases out there, so if someone is unvaccinated, the "virus is likely to find them", Adalja said.

The request orders that all unimmunized kid and adults living or working in the area must get inoculations except if they can demonstrate a medical exemption applies. As of Monday, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported that 285 cases of the illness had been confirmed in Brooklyn and Queens over the past six months.

The mandated vaccinations aim to combat a measles outbreak that has affected more than 250 people in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood since September, reported The Associated Press. "The vaccine has been proven safe and effective in preventing the spread of measles for decades and we have evidence", Barbot tweeted.

"I know that parents may be afraid of getting their child vaccinated, but as a pediatrician, I know that getting vaccinated is far safer than getting measles".

Vaccination rates are lower among younger children, aged 19 to 35 months.

The city of NY has declared a measles outbreak, the health state of emergency.

This follows an order in Rockland County that barred unvaccinated children from public spaces for 30 days. In the cases reported, about 400 to 500 people died each year. According to the deputy mayor for Health and Human Services, Dr. Heminia Palacio, citizens should not take measles lightly as it is a very risky disease that can cause death in some cases.

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But how much worse could the outbreak get, and how far could it spread?

NY has contended with measles outbreaks and the legal challenges that have arisen in efforts to contain them.

Earlier this week, the city ordered religious schools and day care programs serving the Orthodox Jewish community in Williamsburg to exclude unvaccinated students or risk being closed down.

In a statement by the city's health department, Brooklyn Rabbi David Niederman said, "It says in the Torah "V'nishmartem Meod L'nafshoseichem"-a person must guard their health". Last week, the judge hearing their case agreed with them, stating the number of cases in the country - over 150 confirmed cases currently-didn't legally merit the need for the county's emergency order.

"The combination of a large anti-vax movement. with a large outbreak has not happened in the way that its happening right now", said Palacio.

The outbreak has mostly occurred within the Orthodox Jewish community where some parents have opted out of vaccinating their children citing religious reasons.

The National Institutes of Health says reports of serious reactions to vaccines are rare: about one in every 100,000 vaccinations.

But Michael Weinstein, director of the New Jersey Immunization Network, called the mayor's move "the right thing to do", given the high case numbers and population density in NY.

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