Tag Archive: new york measles outbreak


 

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New York City has declared a public health emergency over the growing measles outbreak with 285 confirmed cases in New York City since the fall.  The “epicenter” of the outbreak is in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where vaccination rates among Orthodox Jews are particularly low.  The emergency order was declared in an effort to curtail the outbreak and protect others.  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.

Those found to be in violation of the order could face up to a $1,000 fine, officials said.  Under the mandatory vaccinations, members of the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will check the vaccination records of any individual who may have been in contact with infected patients. Those who have not received the MMR vaccine or do not have evidence of immunity may be given a violation and could be fined $1,000.  New York’s MMR vaccination rate is at 91.1 percent, below the 94 percent requirement to achieve herd immunity.

The NYC Health Department recently issued an order banning all unvaccinated members of the Orthodox Jewish community in Williamsburg from entering yeshivas and day care programs. Non-compliant schools could be subject to closure.  Roughly 1,800 children in Williamsburg remain unvaccinated.  The city will help unprotected individuals secure affordable and accessible vaccination, and emphasized that vaccination is safe and effective.  In February, the department increased the recommended MMR vaccine dose for children between ages 6 months and 11 months who live in Williamsburg and Borough Park. Infants are advised to get immunized prior to international travel.

The Williamsburg outbreak started when an unvaccinated child acquired measles on a visit to Israel, where a large outbreak of the disease is occurring.  There have been additional people from Brooklyn and Queens who were unvaccinated and acquired measles while in Israel according to the health department.  Most of the Williamsburg cases involve members of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, many of whom live by the Torah teachings that followers should not cause the body any damage since it is a gift from God.

Last month, in Rockland County, NY, near the city, county health officials declared a state of emergency and barred unvaccinated children from public spaces for 30 days. The order was temporarily halted last week after a judge ruled against it.  Outside of New York City and Rockland County, measles outbreaks are underway in the Pacific Northwest, California, New Jersey and Michigan.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported at least 465 individual cases of measles in 19 states in the past three and a half months. This outbreak has the second greatest number of infected individuals since measles was declared eliminated in 2000.

An analysis published in PLOS Medicine has shown that non-medical exemptions increased in 12 out of 17 states with relaxed laws on immunization. Arkansas, Arizona, Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Utah gave leeway for philosophical beliefs as a basis to refuse the vaccine.  Authorities said they are now reviewing a bill to ensure that only patients with a qualified medical history like chemotherapy or organ transplantation will be given an exemption.

 

 

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A New York City suburb has announced a ban against children who aren’t vaccinated against measles from schools, markets and other public spaces, amidst one of the worst U.S. outbreaks in decades of the sometimes-fatal disease.   Rockland County Executive Ed Day said the ban which went into effect at midnight March 27th, will target parents who refuse to give their children the MMR vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella.  “Effective at the stroke of midnight tonight, March 27th, anyone who is under 18 years of age and is unvaccinated against the measles will be barred from public places until the declaration expires in 30 days or until they receive at least their first shot of MMR.”

The order, which will affect an estimated 6,000 unvaccinated children and their families – was put into effect amid an outbreak, which has seen at least 214 people infected with measles since last October.  The outbreak began when an unvaccinated resident became infected while visiting Israel and returned with the disease.  The outbreak has mostly been confined to an area with particularly low vaccination rates, Rockland County’s Orthodox Jewish community- which has 153 confirmed cases-mostly unvaccinated children under the age of 18.   Measles is a highly contagious virus that is prevented with the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. The CDC recommends that the two-dose vaccine be given first at 12 to 15 months of age and then between ages 4 and 6.  The outbreak in Rockland County has been the longest outbreak in the United States since before measles was declared eliminated in 2000.

Ed Day said the outbreak will not go on indefinitely. “This is a public health crisis, and it is time to sound the alarm, to ensure that everyone takes proper action to protect themselves and their neighbors; for the health and safety of all of us in Rockland,” he said in a news release.  “Public places include synagogues, churches, schools, restaurants, stores and public buses.  Public places are defined as: a place where more than 10 persons are intended to congregate” the news release says.   Children who are current with the vaccine schedule but not fully vaccinated against measles because they are not old enough are exempt from the order.  The order does not apply to people who are older than 18 because “we did not want to prevent anyone from going to work,” but unvaccinated adults are also encouraged to get vaccinated.

Nearly 17,000 vaccinations have been administered in the county during the outbreak.  “As this outbreak has continued, our inspectors have begun to meet resistance from those they are trying to protect. They have been hung up on or told not to call again. They’ve been told ‘we’re not discussing this; do not come back’ when visiting the homes of infected individuals as part of their investigations. This type of response is unacceptable and irresponsible. It endangers the health and well-being of others and displays a shocking lack of responsibility and concern for others in our community,” Day said.  He also referred to a case where an infected individual who exposed people at a Target store later stopped helping the investigators narrow down when the exposure might have happened. “We’re already seeing that chilling factor of people not cooperating with us, so from our perspective, this gives us more tools to get them to cooperate with our investigators.”

The ban will be enforced the same way any law is enforced, during the investigation into when and where an infected individual was exposed, those who are identified as unvaccinated and people in public places will be referred to the district attorney’s office.  In cases that are referred to the district attorney, Day said the penalty is six months in jail and/or a $500 fine.  “Just to be clear, this is not something we’re looking to do. The emergency declaration, by law, comes with that assigned. It’s the lowest crime there is.  The goal is not to prosecute people. We don’t want to fine people. We want to encourage people to get vaccinated,” he said.