April 21, 2019

NY mayor declares measles emergency, orders mandatory vaccination

10 April 2019, 05:41 | Silvia Roy

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Residents of a predominantly ultra Orthodox Jewish community in New York could face fines for failing to be vaccinated against the measles. New York's mayor declared an emergency Tuesday citing an outbreak of the virus

News of the order got a mixed reaction in Williamsburg, with some residents - even those who support vaccination - saying they felt uncomfortable with the city pushing vaccines on people who don't want them. This order affects residents of the following zip codes: 11205, 11206, 11221 and 11249.

The emergency declaration follows a previously announced Department of Health exclusion order barring unvaccinated children from attending schools and day cares within both Williamsburg and Borough Park, and demonstrates a shift in the city's focus to combating the disease in the northern Brooklyn neighborhood, where the majority of new measles cases have been discovered, according to de Blasio.

"If people will simply cooperate quickly, nobody will have to pay a fine", de Blasio said.

Measles "parties" stems from the once-popular trend of "pox parties" - intentionally exposing children to chickenpox, before the Varicella vaccine was rolled out in 1995.

"We are concerned about families having measles parties", New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot said at a news conference, emphasizing that "we live in a different world now".

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"I know that parents may be afraid of getting their child vaccinated, but as a pediatrician".

"This outbreak is being fuelled by a small group of anti-vaxxers in these neighbourhoods". They blamed the spike partly on anti-vaccine campaigns spreading misinformation that immunizations are risky. "We've seen a large increase in the number of people vaccinated in these neighborhoods, but as Passover approaches, we need to do all we can to ensure more people get the vaccine".

The city's health commissioner, Dr Oxiris Barbot, said that the majority of religious leaders in Brooklyn's large Orthodox communities supported vaccination efforts, but that rates have remained low in some areas because of resistance from some groups that believed the inoculations were risky. Now any school out of compliance will immediately be issued a violation and could be subject to closure.

The nation's largest metropolis is just one of many cities grappling with the return of measles, often fostered by "anti-vaxxer" sentiment that causes parents to forgo the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.

At Yeshiva Kehilath Yakov school, Rabbi David Oberlander said administrators took pains to make sure children with measles - some 20 cases in recent months - weren't in class. Twenty-one people have been hospitalized since the outbreak started with five people being admitted to the intensive care unit.

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Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that can result in serious health complications, such as pneumonia and swelling of the brain.

That's the point of vaccines - safe ways of making people immune to infections with limited side effects. The outbreak has largely centred around ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities where immunisation rates are low. Before then, between 3 million and 4 million people got measles every year, according to the CDC. "However, measles is still common in other countries".

The study was a follow-up of an earlier large study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2002 that also involved Danish children and also concluded that there "was no association between the age at the time of vaccination, the time since vaccination, or the date of vaccination and the development of autistic disorder".

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

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