Published: Thu, April 11, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

New York measles emergency declared in Brooklyn

New York measles emergency declared in Brooklyn

New York City declared a public health emergency Tuesday over a measles outbreak and ordered mandatory vaccinations in one neighborhood for people who may have been exposed to the virus. "But as a doctor, a public health practitioner, and a mom, I must warn you that exposing your unvaccinated child to measles is very unsafe, and it could even be deadly".

"We don't take any of this lightly", said the mayor, above a slogan telling people not to wait to get vaccinated.

"Failure to comply with this Order is a violation of §3.05 of the New York City Health Code, and a misdemeanor for which you may be subject to civil and/or criminal fines, forfeitures and penalties, including imprisonment", said a warning at the bottom of the order.

To date, 285 cases have been confirmed since the beginning of the outbreak in October, with numerous new cases being confirmed in the last two months.

A total of 465 cases across 19 states have been confirmed this year, according to the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At least 285 people have contracted the disease in the city since September, mostly in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood.

'In general, the Orthodox community does immunize, ' said Dr. Joseph Kaplovitz, who works at the NYU Langone Stepping Stones Pediatrics clinic in Brooklyn's Borough Park. While there have been no confirmed deaths so far, 21 people have been hospitalized, with five admitted to intensive care, officials said. Some residents - even those who support vaccination - said they felt uncomfortable about the city pushing inoculations on people who don't want them. According to the deputy mayor for Health and Human Services, Dr. Heminia Palacio, citizens should not take measles lightly as it is a very unsafe disease that can cause death in some cases.

As part of the order, the parent or guardian of any unvaccinated child in the neighborhood can be liable to a fine of $1,000 per instance. "This will mandate vaccines for people living in the affected area", de Blasio said. There have been 285 reported cases of measles since the start of October in NY, with those most commonly affected being children younger than 18.

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Rockland County, located near New York City, recently declared a 30-day public health emergency over a measles outbreak there that has seen 168 people contract the disease, according to the CDC.

The outbreak has been predominately among ultra Orthodox Jews, and not unsimilar to outbreaks among other insular communities in recent years where parental fears about immunization have been influenced by an anti-vaccine movement in the larger population that persists despite scientific studies showing the safety of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.

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.

This public health emergency declaration comes after the NYC Health Department issued Commissioner's Orders last week to all yeshivas and daycare programs serving the Orthodox Jewish community in Williamsburg, doubling down on their order to exclude unvaccinated students or face violations and possible closure, first announced in December.

New York City accounted for about two-thirds of all United States measles cases reported last week.

Measles parties, like chicken pox parties, involve bringing your child into contact with the disease in order to infect them.

Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, the health commissioner there, said that since October she has been waging an uphill fight to persuade people vaccines are safe and necessary to protect the larger community.

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