New York City declares public health emergency, orders mandatory measles vaccinations

Henrietta Brewer
April 11, 2019

The April 9 order states that anyone who "lives, works or resides" within four designated zip codes in Williamsburg "who has not received the MMR vaccine" within 48 hours of the order being issued "shall be vaccinated against measles unless such person can demonstrate immunity to the disease or document to the satisfaction of the Department that he or she should be medically exempt from this requirement".

"We can not allow this risky disease to make a comeback in New York City", said de Blasio.

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.

"This is the epicentre of a measles outbreak that is very, very troubling and must be dealt with immediately", de Blasio said.

The mandatory vaccination order follows an order from the Health Department last week requiring yeshivas and day-care programmes serving Williamsburg's Orthodox Jewish community to exclude unvaccinated children or face fines or closure.

New York City's health commissioner is empowered by law to issue such orders in cases where they might be necessary to protect against a serious public health threat.

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.

Most of the NY cases involved unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated individuals, according to de Blasio's office.

Officials fear increased travel during Passover among people who could carry measles to or from NY.

An outbreak, also within an ultra-orthodox Jewish community in Rockland County, outside New York City, led officials to ban unvaccinated children from public places in mid-March.

Barbot cited a group of "anti-vaxxers" who are seeking to undermine the public health emergency. They blamed the spike partly on anti-vaccine campaigns spreading misinformation that immunizations are unsafe. "We stand with the majority of people in this community who have worked hard to protect their children and those at risk. We have to stop it now", he said.

This is the largest outbreak in the city in almost three decades. Others remain convinced, against expert assurances, that vaccines are unsafe.

"I would expect that this outbreak is going to get bigger before it comes under control", said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore.

"And it's everybody's option to do what he wants".

De Blasio also touted the city's authority to temporarily close schools found in violation of the Health Department's exclusion order as an option of last resort in combating the spread of measles. There were only two reported cases in 2017. "We'd have to confer with our legal team", Miranda said.

Q: Why so many cases in New York's Orthodox Jewish communities? California ended a similar exemption in 2015 after a measles outbreak at Disneyland sickened 147 people and spread across the USA and into Canada.

"Get the measles vaccine", Palacio said.

The highly contagious airborne pathogen produces symptoms including fever, cough, and a runny nose, and can cause diarrhea, ear infection, pneumonia, encephalitis, and death - with about 1 of every 1,367 kids infected dying due to fatal complications from measles.

People are infectious from five days before the onset of the rash to five days after the rash starts. It lays out numerous anti-vaccine arguments that have been debunked by scientific studies, such as a claim that measles, mumps and rubella vaccinations increase the risk of autism.

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