Thursday, 25 April, 2019

NY measles emergency declared in Brooklyn

De Blasio declares public health emergency over measles outbreak in Brooklyn mandates vaccination in Williamsburg ZIP codes Measles outbreak: NYC threatens fines for unvaccinated Williamsburg residents
Celia Hoffman | 11 April, 2019, 20:15

After almost 300 people were infected in Brooklyn, Bill de Blasio, New York's mayor, ordered unvaccinated individuals in certain postcodes to get their jabs or face a fine.

The order applies to anyone living, working or going to school in four ZIP codes in the neighborhood and requires all unvaccinated people at risk of exposure to the virus to get the vaccine, including children over six months old.

Speaking at a press briefing on the emergency declaration, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said people who remain unvaccinated in the affected area will face fines.

According to the New York Times, there have been 285 confirmed cases of the highly infectious disease in the last several months, mostly affecting members of Brooklyn's Orthodox Jewish communities. "This outbreak is being fueled by a small group of anti-vaxxers in these neighborhoods".

People who resist could be fined $1,000. That compares to only two reported cases in 2017.

"I think it's a sign of the impact of vaccine denialism, where we're now in a place where cities feel like they need to up the ante" with vaccination orders, says Scott Burris, a public health law professor at Temple University's Beasley School of Law.

Since the Health Department issued its mandatory exclusion order in December, numerous schools violating the city's emergency mandate played host to mini outbreaks of the extremely virulent disease, including one Williamsburg yeshiva that inspectors have connected to more than 40 cases since January. She and fellow volunteers from the Orthodox Jewish Nurses Association have been holding workshops to reassure mothers that the vaccine is safe and effective.

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The outbreak has been predominately among ultra Orthodox Jews, and not unsimilar to outbreaks among other insular communities in recent years where parental fears about immunization have been influenced by an anti-vaccine movement in the larger population that persists despite scientific studies showing the safety of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.

"It's true that a lot of people have measles, and measles are not a very good thing, said resident Aron Braver, but he thinks the vaccine is "also not a very good thing".

News came on Tuesday that New York's mayor has declared a public health emergency in light of the measles outbreak. Twenty-one people have been hospitalized since the outbreak started with five people being admitted to the intensive care unit.

New York's action comes as health officials have scrambled to blunt the spread of measles. "They have been spreading unsafe misinformation based on fake science", said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot.

City officials said Tuesday that 246 cases were in children. "We stand with the majority of people in this community who have worked hard to protect their children and those at risk". Newborns, pregnant individuals, and those with weakened immune systems can not get vaccinated, so it is important that everyone around them be vaccinated in order to protect them from contracting the virus and prevent severe complications in these susceptible populations.

The disease was declared eliminated in the U.S.in 2000, which means it was not being spread domestically.

"There is a campaign with very intentional efforts to give misinformation", Herminia Palacio, the city's deputy mayor for public health, said at the news conference. It's in these areas where there's potential for a lot of measles spread.

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