Published: Wed, April 10, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

NYC health officials warn against 'measles parties' amid biggest outbreak in decades

NYC health officials warn against 'measles parties' amid biggest outbreak in decades

New York City's health commissioner has declared a public health emergency over a major measles outbreak in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, with 250 cases documented in the area since September 2018.

"There's no question that vaccines are safe, effective and life-saving", de Blasio said in a statement. "I urge everyone, especially those in affected areas, to get their MMR vaccines to protect their children, families and communities". One school that violated the mandate has been linked to more than 40 cases, the health department said.

The New York City declaration requires all unvaccinated people who may have been exposed to the virus to get the vaccine, including children over 6 months old.

Some residents - even those who support vaccination - said they felt uncomfortable with the city pushing vaccines on people who did not want them. Officials in New York City were no different in their blame.

A total of 285 measles cases have been recorded in the city's Orthodox Jewish community since last October.

Last year, there were 372 cases nationwide. There have been no deaths associated with this outbreak, although there have been complications, including 21 hospitalizations and five admissions to the intensive care unit. "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". "They have been spreading risky misinformation based on fake science", Dr. Barbot said in the statement.

"We have a situation now where children are in danger".

Most of the NY cases involved unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated individuals, according to Mr de Blasio's office.

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The measles vaccine, which the CDC recommends children get two doses of, is 97 percent effective, according to health officials. Non-immune pregnant women are at particular risk, she said.

CBS reported that the "vast majority" of children in the largely ultra-Orthodox community of Williamsburg are vaccinated, but that the disease continues to spread due to how tight-knit the community is.

Many vaccine opponents believe medically baseless claims that inoculations can cause autism and other negative health effects.

"This is the epicenter of a measles outbreak that is very, very troubling and must be dealt with immediately..."

"In January, one yeshiva in Williamsburg fell out of compliance with the Department's exclusion mandate, allowing unvaccinated children back into school or daycare", the Health Department said in a news release. The CDC says 9 out of 10 people who are exposed to someone with measles will become infected, though they might not know for up to six days.

"It's true that a lot of people have measles and measles are not a very good thing, but I think the vaccine also not a very good thing", Williamsburg resident Aron Braver said.

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. Called MMR, it protects against measles, mumps and rubella.

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