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NY orders mandatory vaccinations amid measles outbreak

12 April 2019
NY orders mandatory vaccinations amid measles outbreak

New York City declared a public health emergency and ordered mandatory measles vaccinations amid an outbreak in Brooklyn, which has become the latest national flash point over refusals to inoculate against unsafe diseases. "People who are immunocompromised, as well as young children and non-immune pregnant women are at highest risk for severe complications".

"We have a very serious situation on our hands. We have to stop it now", de Blasio said at a news conference.

The first Brooklyn child with measles acquired the infection on a visit to Israel, where a large outbreak is occurring, according to the New York City Health Department.

For those who need help getting the vaccine, the city has said that it will offer assistance. At least 285 people have contracted the disease in the city since September, mostly in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighbourhood.

The order concerns all people living or working in four zip codes of Williamsburg, northwest Brooklyn, where some residents oppose vaccines on religious grounds - although neither Jewish texts nor local Jewish authorities advise against vaccination.

The measles vaccine, which the CDC recommends children get two doses of, is 97 percent effective, according to health officials. Children over 6 months old in the zone in question are also required to be vaccinated.

In case you have not yet heard, the childhood disease known simply as measles is on the rise again, after decades of vaccinations saw it almost eradicated. The Fort Greene Health Center was available for those looking to get the vaccine and walk-ins were welcome as well with no appointment necessary.

The nation's largest metropolis is just one of many cities grappling with the return of measles, often fostered by "anti-vaxxer" sentiment that causes parents to forgo the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. The other locations include areas of Washington state and Michigan, Butte County and Santa Cruz County in California, Rockland County in NY, and Ocean County in New Jersey. That compares to 372 cases in the USA for all of a year ago.

"There is no religious exemption on measles", Gary Schlesinger, CEO of Parcare Community Health Network, told CBS New York.

"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.

However, that ban was overturned by a judge last Friday. And the current tally of cases (465 and climbing) is already the second largest number of cases reported in a year since the disease was formally wiped out in 2000.

"I would expect that this outbreak is going to get bigger before it comes under control", said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore.

The CDC says there are now scattered cases in 19 states, including Washington, Arizona and Texas.

CBS reported that the "vast majority" of children in the largely ultra-Orthodox community of Williamsburg are vaccinated, but that the disease continues to spread due to how tight-knit the community is.

AP Medical Writer Mike Stobbe and Associated Press writers Robert Bumsted and Mary Esch in Albany, New York, contributed.