NYC's New Policy on Measles Vaccine Prompts Renewed Focus in NJ

Henrietta Brewer
April 13, 2019

Some Orthodox Jewish residents say refusing measles vaccines is a part of their religious belief, but on the streets of Williamsburg there is also strong support for vaccinations and worries that the outbreak might spread.

"When you make the decision not to vaccinate your child, please understand you're also making that decision for the people around your child", warned Palacio, who said her services had received reports of so-called "measles parties" held to purposely expose children to the disease. At the time, my medical colleagues and I hailed the end of this unsafe virus that infected more than 4 million people per year, hospitalized 50,000, and killed 500, before the measles vaccine program began in 1963. Governmental records indicate that the measles vaccination rates in yeshivos in Williamsburg, Borough Park and across New York State are high, with yeshiva averages statewide exceeding 96%.

However, Amler said, there are "vulnerable populations", such as children under 1, who may be unvaccinated.

Yet here we are in 2019, with measles outbreaks occurring in six states, a measles state of emergency declared in Rockland County, and the World Health Organization announcing that the virus is once again a global threat. As of Wednesday there were 173 confirmed reported cases of measles in Rockland County. Two of the infected children developed pneumonia and had to be hospitalized as a result. She added that a true understanding of vaccination requires more than surface-level explanations found in the media. However, vaccination gives a 93 to 97 percent chance of immunity, which is what initially led the country to declare the disease as void.

Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease caused by the measles virus.

"I'm concerned but I'm not at a point of crisis mobilization", Latimer said. "Our goal is to get people vaccinated".

At least 90 percent of the public should be vaccinated to properly protect the community at large, he said. This outbreak has the second greatest number of infected individuals since measles was eradicated in the country in the 2000s.

And we ask given continued fears in some communities around vaccines despite years of overwhelming scientific consensus about their safety, do we need to change how we talk about vaccines? There's no room for misinformation when it comes to protecting our children.

"It's shocking that these things that I didn't worry about with my kids because they could be vaccinated - all of a sudden parents have to worry about their children getting life-threatening diseases", Siepser said.

Symptoms of measles appear about 10 to 12 days after exposure, Amler said.

Anyone who would like to receive a vaccine at one of these clinics should register in advance for an appointment at

Did she know that features of autism and epilepsy overlap, raising the question of whether there might be a biological link? Before researchers developed a vaccine, this disease once affected millions in the USA and hospitalized tens of thousands every year. The city states that the first case was found in an unvaccinated child who had acquired the disease on a trip to Israel, which is now suffering an outbreak. Since Sept 30, the area has produced 285 measles cases, city officials said at a news conference on Tuesday, including 246 children.

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