Tuesday, 23 April, 2019

New York City threatens to close yeshivas over unvaccinated children

Anna Jefferson | 10 April, 2019, 04:24

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a public health emergency Tuesday, April 9, in select zip codes in Williamsburg, following a measles outbreak affecting the Orthodox Jewish community.

'I understand that parents may be afraid of getting their children vaccinated, ' said Oxiris Barbot, the city's health commissioner.

"If people will simply cooperate quickly, nobody will have to pay a fine", Mr de Blasio said. This order affects residents of the following zip codes: 11205, 11206, 11221 and 11249.

When questioned whether an order to vaccine people was legal, Mayor Bill de Blasio said yes, noting his office is "absolutely certain we have the power to do this". "I urge everyone, especially those in affected areas, to get their MMR vaccines to protect their children, families and communities".

"This is the epicenter of a measles outbreak that is very, very troubling and must be dealt with immediately", he said at a news conference in Williamsburg.

The mandate orders all unvaccinated people in the area, including a concentration of ultra-Orthodox Jews, to receive inoculations, including for children as young as six months old.

"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. "It is safe, it is effective, it is time-tested", de Blasio added.

"This outbreak is being fueled by a small group of anti-vaxxers in these neighborhoods. They have been spreading risky misinformation based on fake science", Dr. Barbot said in the statement.

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The health commissioner said that "nearly all" measles cases in New York City have been associated with the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, and the outbreak is the largest since 1991. As of late last week, there had been at least 166 confirmed cases there. Most of these measles cases were unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated individuals.

A virus causes measles, which is highly contagious and spreads through coughing and sneezing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps, and rubella. Pregnant women - even if they have received the MMR vaccine - are still at risk of complications including birth defects or loss of pregnancy.

Measles can be prevented through vaccinations. New Yorkers should call 311 to access a list of facilities that can provide MMR at low or no cost.

There are large outbreaks of measles in Europe and Israel, as well as in countries in South America, Africa, and Asia.

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".

Last week, a judge ruled against an order in New York's Rockland County, temporarily halting an order from health officials there that barred unvaccinated children from public school.

"There is no religious exemption on measles", Gary Schlesinger, CEO of Parcare Community Health Network, told WLNY.

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