Public health emergency declared amid Brooklyn measles outbreak


10 April, 2019

"We can not allow this unsafe disease to make a comeback here in New York City", de Blasio added.

New York City officials declared a public health emergency Tuesday in parts of the Williamsburg neighborhood, where a measles outbreak has run rampant in an Orthodox Jewish community since last October-largely among unvaccinated children.

The city's health department ordered Monday for all yeshivas, which are Jewish education centers, to bar students who have not received the measles vaccine from class or face possible closure, reported NBC News.

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.

The emergency requires vaccinations for people exposed to the virus and applies only to those who live in four ZIP codes in Williamsburg. "They have been spreading risky misinformation based on fake science", Barbot said. Officials there banned children not vaccinated against measles from public spaces last month. All residents in the affected areas have been told to get vaccinated or face a fine.

The vast majority of cases are children under the age of 18 - 246 cases - and 39 cases involve adults. The cases led to 21 hospitalizations, including five admissions to intensive care units.

NY has contended with measles outbreaks and the legal challenges that have arisen in efforts to contain them.

As skepticism over vaccines has increased in recent years, the number of cases of preventable diseases has spiked accordingly.

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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.

Oxiris Barbot said on Tuesday that she is ordering everyone who lives, works or goes to school in Williamsburg to get vaccinated against the highly contagious disease.

"We stand with the majority of people in this community who have worked hard to protect their children and those at risk".

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.

"Get the measles vaccine", Palacio said. It is safe, it is effective, it is time-tested.

Health officials also expressed alarm at reports of parents in the city holding so-called "measles parties" where they intentionally expose their unvaccinated children to an infected child in the mistaken belief doing so is a safe means to create immunity.

Michigan's measles outbreak dates back to March 13, when the health department reported that the first case came from someone "visiting from Israel following a stay in NY".

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