Thursday, 19 September, 2019

New York City orders mandatory vaccines for some amid measles outbreak

De Blasio declares public health emergency over measles outbreak in Brooklyn mandates vaccination in Williamsburg ZIP codes New York City threatens to close yeshivas over unvaccinated children
Anna Jefferson | 10 April, 2019, 06:24

The mayor's office declared a public health emergency Tuesday in specific areas of Williamsburg where a measles outbreak is affecting the Orthodox Jewish community.

Officials said 285 measles cases have been confirmed in New York City since the beginning of the outbreak, the largest in the city since 1991. "I urge everyone, especially those in affected areas, to get their [mumps-measles-rubella] vaccines to protect their children, families and communities".

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.

USA cities have fined residents before for not being vaccinated, but "not in our modern history", said Lawrence Gostin, a Georgetown Law professor focused on public health law.

Officials from New York City's Department of Health will check vaccination records of anyone who has been in contact with infected patients in certain parts of Brooklyn, officials 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 unsafe.

"Today we are declaring a public health emergency effective immediately". Twenty-one people have been hospitalized since the outbreak started with five people being admitted to the intensive care unit. "They have been spreading unsafe misinformation based on fake science", said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot.

'I know that getting vaccinated is far safer than getting measles.

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The measles virus is highly contagious and can lead to serious complications and death. "The vaccine has been proven safe and effective in preventing the spread of measles for decades and we have evidence". Officials there banned children not vaccinated against measles from public spaces last month.

De Blasio, a Democrat, said officials were confident the order would withstand legal scrutiny. Newborns, pregnant individuals, and those with weakened immune systems can not get vaccinated, so it is important that everyone around them be vaccinated in order to protect them from contracting the virus and prevent severe complications in these susceptible populations.

In February, the Department expanded vaccination recommendations for providers serving the Orthodox Jewish community to include an early, extra dose of the MMR vaccine for children between the ages of 6 months to 11 months who live in Williamsburg and Borough Park.

It is the first time New York City has ordered mandatory vaccinations in recent history, according to health officials.

A recently released large-scale Danish study looked at any possible risk for autism from the MMR vaccine and the conclusion was that "MMR vaccination does not increase the risk for autism, does not trigger autism in susceptible children, and is not associated with clustering of autism cases after vaccination".

New York's mandate comes as health officials have scrambled to blunt the spread of measles.

The Health Department also warned against parents throwing "measles parties" as a way of infecting unvaccinated kids.

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