June 24, 2019

Citing measles emergency, this county just banned unvaccinated children from public places

28 March 2019, 10:24 | Silvia Roy

Citing measles emergency, this county just banned unvaccinated children from public places

A man walks through the parking lot of a supermarket in New York's Rockland County which has declared a state of emergency over a measles outbreak

A county in NY has now declared a state of emergency, banning unvaccinated children from public places, such as restaurants, shops and places of worship, for the next 30 days or until they receive vaccination. County Executive, Ed Day explained that anyone under the age of eighteen years old, and unvaccinated against measles, will be banned from all public spaces, including schools. Until the declaration expires in 30 days, anyone under the age of 18 who are not vaccinated is not allowed in public places.

A NY county has declared a state of emergency over a measles outbreak of 153 reported cases since October, calling it one of the worst in decades.

Earlier this month, a judge denied a request for 44 unvaccinated children in Rockland County to return to school after their parents sued the county's health department over a policy enacted in December.

"The outbreak has been largely concentrated in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in Rockland, many of which have close ties to Brooklyn areas where there have also been infections". The measles outbreak has infected more than 150 people since last fall and unvaccinated children are prohibited visiting public places until they receive the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.

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"We are urging them, now with the authority of law, to get your children vaccinated".

In his announcement, Day said violators could face six months in jail and/or a $500 fine. County officials say the only exemption from vaccinations are people who can not receive it for medical reasons.

But Lyon said residents are becoming worn out, are not returning calls from the health department and are declining to speak with health investigators who visit in person.

"I'll be interested to see how many people come forward to get vaccinated", she said, agreeing that social scientists will probably be watching this natural experiment closely. This is the 26th week of an outbreak and while many people have been vaccinated in that time period, Day said there's been increasing resistance from those are are still unvaccinated.

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This year, 314 cases have been reported nationwide, according to the CDC. In 2014, 667 cases were confirmed nationwide and there were 372 cases in 2018.

"This type of response is unacceptable and frankly irresponsible", he said. But the greater public needs to be protected from measles, Day said.

This story was reported by The Associated Press.

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