New York Mandates Vaccine To Contain Brooklyn Measles Outbreak

Henrietta Strickland
April 11, 2019

New York City has declared a public health emergency in response to a measles outbreak in Brooklyn.

The New York City declaration requires all unvaccinated people who may have been exposed to the virus to get the vaccine, including children over 6 months old.

The city's largest outbreak since 1991 of the once virtually eradicated disease has mainly been confined to the Orthodox Jewish community in the borough's Williamsburg neighborhood, with 285 cases confirmed since October, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference.

New York City on Tuesday, April 9, declared a public health emergency and ordered mandatory measles vaccinations amid an outbreak, becoming the latest national flashpoint over refusals to inoculate against unsafe diseases.

"This outbreak is being fuelled by a small group of anti-vaxxers in these neighbourhoods", Dr Barbot said. Those who are uninsured will pay what they can afford, de Blasio said, and those who cannot afford the vaccination will receive it for free. That compares to only two reported cases in 2017.

As skepticism over vaccines has increased in recent years, the number of cases of preventable diseases has spiked accordingly. "Two doses of MMR vaccine are about 97% effective at preventing measles; one dose is about 93% effective".

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.

In the meantime, outbreaks like those in New York City continue to spread.

Health officials are also urging people to vaccinate their children if they plan on traveling to upstate New York, Israel, Europe or other parts of the USA where outbreaks are occurring. "They have been spreading risky misinformation based on fake science". "People who are immunocompromised, as well as young children and non-immune pregnant women are at highest risk for severe complications". It covers people who live in four ZIP codes in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood, where more than 250 people have gotten measles since September.

"Look it's a serious public health concern, but it's also a serious First Amendment issue and it is going to be a constitutional, legal question", Cuomo said.

Measles is a highly-infectious viral illness spread by contact with respiratory secretions through coughing and sneezing.

'I understand that parents may be afraid of getting their children vaccinated, ' said Oxiris Barbot, the city's health commissioner. Twenty-one people have been hospitalized since the outbreak started with five people being admitted to the intensive care unit.

The mayor's office placed the blame largely on intentional campaigns to discredit the safety of vaccinations - the so-called anti-vax movement that has gained prominence across the United States. "Unvaccinated people continue to get measles while overseas and bring the disease into the United States and spread it to others".

The study was a follow-up of an earlier large study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2002 that also involved Danish children and also concluded that there "was no association between the age at the time of vaccination, the time since vaccination, or the date of vaccination and the development of autistic disorder".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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