April 21, 2019

New York City declares public health emergency amid growing measles outbreak

09 April 2019, 10:53 | Silvia Roy

Seth Wenig Associated Press Measles mumps and rubella vaccines

Measles mumps and rubella vaccines

Two Brooklyn moms whose kids all had measles blasted city officials for ordering mandatory vaccinations against the disease on Tuesday. None proved fatal, but 21 patients required hospitalization and five were admitted to intensive care.

The health department in December ordered yeshivas and daycare centers in specific Brooklyn zip codes, populated largely with ultra-Orthodox, to exclude all non-vaccinated students until the end of the current measles outbreak.

"Since then, there have been additional people from Brooklyn and Queens who were unvaccinated and acquired measles while in Israel", according to the city's health department.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the unusual order amid what he said was a measles crisis in Brooklyn's Williamsburg section, where more than 250 people have gotten measles since September.

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Under the new rules, anyone who has not received the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine or does not have evidence of immunity risks a fine of $1,000, said a statement from the mayor's office.

Community leaders welcomed the move.

The majority of cases have been among members of Brooklyn's Orthodox Jewish community, primarily in parts of Brooklyn's Williamsburg and Borough Park neighborhoods.

Mainstream Jewish teaching does not prohibit vaccination, and most rabbis are encouraging parents to have their children immunized.

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"I was glad that they got it the way God intended them to get it", said Esther, 25, an Orthodox Jewish mother of three. Officials there banned children not vaccinated against measles from public spaces last month.

"By not vaccinating, you're endangering not only yourself, but your family, your neighbors, people that want to be safe", he said.

The city's health commissioner, Dr Oxiris Barbot, said that the majority of religious leaders in Brooklyn's large Orthodox communities support vaccination efforts, but that rates have remained low in some areas because of resistance from some groups that believe the inoculations are risky. The order is being appealed by Rockland officials.

City Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot added, "As a pediatrician, I know the MMR vaccine is safe and effective".

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