- On Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a public health emergency after a measles outbreak in a Brooklyn neighborhood with a large Orthodox Jewish population.
- Speaking alongside city health officials, de Blasio announced mandatory vaccinations for all unvaccinated adults and children in the neighborhood.
- The city’s Department of Health announced in early March that an outbreak that began in October had produced more than 120 cases in the neighborhood.
- Officials pointed to guidelines that religious schools aren’t following and extensive anti-vaccine campaigns within Williamsburg communities, which pose a significant obstacle to wiping out the disease.
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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced mandatory vaccinations amid a public health emergency sparked by a massive measles outbreak in Brooklyn on Tuesday.
City health officials supported the declaration, which targets those who may have been exposed to the outbreak in the Orthodox Jewish community that dominates the borough’s Williamsburg neighborhood. The order mandates residents receive measles-mumps-rubella, or MMR, vaccine.
Those who don’t comply could be fined up to $1,000.
Speaking alongside city health officials, de Blasio urged all unvaccinated adults and children to seek out the vaccine as soon as possible and warned against misinformation campaigns.
“There’s no question that vaccines are safe, effective, and life-saving,” de Blasio said in a statement. “I urge everyone, especially those in affected areas, to get their MMR vaccines to protect their children, families, and communities.”
The city’s Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot urged any unvaccinated individuals to get in touch with city health resources, which would help them access the vaccine at little or no cost so they could “do the right thing.”
— Commissioner Oxiris Barbot (@NYCHealthCommr) April 9, 2019
In Tuesday’s press conference, officials urged those who might have come in contact with the disease to get the vaccine as soon as possible, as there’s a three-day window before experiencing symptoms.
Authorities also confirmed they had received reports of “measles parties“, which parents used to expose children to the disease in the days before safe, reliable vaccines were available. Health experts war against this ill-advised method, characterizing it as an unsafe practice with potentially life-threatening health implications.
The mayor also hit back against anti-vax campaigns, saying the dangerous rumors “make intentional efforts to give misinformation and we’re here to correct the record.”
The city’s Department of Health previously announced 121 cases of measles since an outbreak in October 2018, 108 of which were among children under 18.
Measles is generally rare in the United States but has re-emerged as a public health threat in recent years amid anti-vaccine campaigns.
Measles is caused by a virus that lives in the nose and throat mucus and is spread when an infected person with measles coughs, talks, or sneezes, spreading the virus onto nearby surfaces or into nearby air, where it can live for several hours.
Before the vaccine was introduced in the 1960s, hundreds of Americans died from the disease every year.
The CDC recommends children get two doses of MMR vaccine: One at 12 to 15 months of age and the second between 4 and 6 years of age.