DE BLASIO'S NYC: Mayor Declares 'Health Emergency' as Measles Outbreak Hits Brooklyn

Grant Boone
April 10, 2019

New York City has declared a public health emergency over a measles outbreak centred in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community and ordered mandatory vaccinations in the neighbourhood.

"There's no question that vaccines are safe, effective, and life-saving", New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement Tuesday.

So far, 21 people to be hospitalized with the measles, including five people who required intensive care, according to Barbot, who noted there have been no fatalities.

There have been 285 cases in the area since 30 September.

Dr Jeffrey Dick of Kindercare Pediatrics in Williamsburg said his practice had seen at least a dozen measles cases in recent months, but also an uptick in families seeking vaccinations as worry about the outbreak spread.

The New York City Department of Health has threatened to fine or even close U.S. yeshivas in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn if students who are not vaccinated against measles are allowed to attend classes.

The city said it would help everyone covered by the order get the vaccine if they can't get it quickly through their regular medical provider.

"The City has worked aggressively to end this outbreak, and today's declaration of a public health emergency and new vaccine mandate, in combination with the blanket Commissioner's Orders for yeshivas, ensures we are using every tool to protect New Yorkers".

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.

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

Four Paws' organisation rescues neglected animals at Gaza zoo
They were sedated for the journey 300 kilometres (190 miles) through Israel , which gave its permission for the transfer. The zoo's owner blamed an economic downturn coupled with an Israeli blockade for the zoo's poor conditions.

Earlier this week, the city ordered religious schools and day care programs serving that community to exclude unvaccinated students or risk being closed down.

"This outbreak is being fueled by a small group of anti-vaxxers in these neighborhoods". They blamed the spike partly on anti-vaccine campaigns spreading misinformation that immunizations are risky.

What's more, the more children in the community have it, the higher risk of exposure for kids with weakened immune systems and pregnant women, who need to avoid the virus.

Anyone who has been in contact with infected patients has to prove they have been vaccinated or pay a $1,000 (US) fine.

Rabbi David Oberlander, director of the Yeshiva Kehilath Yakov School, where there were 20 measles cases, said "maybe 3 percent" of the students were unvaccinated.

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

"I understand that parents may be afraid of getting their children vaccinated", health commissioner Barbot said.

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".

Rockland County, north of the city, has already faced legal action over its efforts to contain measles: an emergency order that would ban children from public places unless they've been immunized.

The city has also threatened to shut down yeshivas, or traditional Jewish religious schools, if they do not follow an order to keep unvaccinated children out of class.

Other reports by

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER