Published: Wed, April 10, 2019
Medicine | By Daryl Nelson

Measles outbreak: City declares public health emergency with 285 confirmed cases

Measles outbreak: City declares public health emergency with 285 confirmed cases

New York City declared a public health emergency and ordered mandatory measles vaccinations amid an outbreak in Brooklyn, which has become the latest national flash point over refusals to inoculate against risky diseases.

At least 285 confirmed cases of measles in Brooklyn and Queens have been reported since October, according to the New York City Health Department.

"We will make sure that everybody who is allowed will be vaccinated", Rabbi David Niederman, the president of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg, said in a phone interview.

As part of the emergency order, all residents of four Williamsburg zip codes - 11205, 11206, 11211 and 11249 - must be vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella if they are not already.

The city can't physically force someone to get a vaccination, but officials said people who ignore the order could be fined $1,000. They have been spreading unsafe misinformation based on fake science. "But if people just go and get vaccinated, there is no need for a fine".

The vast majority of cases are children under 18 years of age (246 cases), and 39 cases are adults.

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

The mandatory vaccination order follows an order from the Health Department last week requiring yeshivas and day-care programs serving Williamsburg's Orthodox Jewish community to exclude unvaccinated children or face fines or closure. Israel, for instance, also has a current measles outbreak.

The CDC reported this week that 465 cases have been confirmed in 19 states in 2019, the second-highest total since measles was declared eliminated.

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

The vaccination mandate would remain in place until the New York City Board of Health's next meeting on April 17 when officials will determine whether or not to continue the order, Barbot said in the release.

It means that anyone who is not vaccinated and living in the area who might have been exposed to the measles will be required to receive the vaccination.

"They have been spreading risky misinformation based on fake science", Dr. Oxiris Barbot, the city' health commissioner, said in a statement.

"Look it's a serious public health concern, but it's also a serious First Amendment issue and it is going to be a constitutional, legal question", Cuomo said.

"Get the measles vaccine", Palacio said.

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.

That's the point of vaccines - safe ways of making people immune to infections with limited side effects.

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