New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a regional "health emergency" Tuesday as a measles outbreak spread across sections of Brooklyn; requiring students in specific zip codes to be vaccinated or face a $1,000 fine.
As part of the declaration, people living in select zip codes of Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood who have not been vaccinated against measles and may have been exposed to the virus will now be required to get the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.
World Health Organization said that immunization coverage of 95 percent amongst all children is needed for a community to be fully protected against measles.
"We have a very serious situation on our hands".
If people can not afford the vaccination, officials said the city will cover the cost. There have been 285 reported cases of measles since the start of October in NY, with those most commonly affected being children younger than 18. She and fellow volunteers from the Orthodox Jewish Nurses Association have been holding workshops to reassure mothers that the vaccine is safe and effective.
The order also applies the same stipulations to the parents or guardian of any unvaccinated child older than six months of age in terms of having the child immunized.
Experts insist vaccines are safe and necessary to protect the larger community from highly infectious diseases like measles, which can cause severe diarrhea, pneumonia and vision loss and can be fatal in some cases. 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.
Last year's total was 372 cases.
The last time city public health officials relied on mandatory vaccinations also involved a religious community in a far more virulent measles outbreak that swept the country in 1991. "The only way to stop this outbreak is to ensure that people who have not been vaccinated get the vaccine". Of those cases, at least 21 ended up hospitalized, WLNY reported.
"I want to emphasize, our public health system stands ready to help any New Yorker who needs the vaccine for themselves or their child". The CDC says roughly 80% of the USA cases are age 19 or younger.
"The combination of a large anti-vax movement. with a large outbreak has not happened in the way that its happening right now", said Palacio. Cases have been reported in Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington.
The reasons for the explosion of cases among members of insular, ultra-orthodox communities has more to do with their frequent contacts with Israel, which is undergoing its own measles crisis, combined with their insularity and mistrust of government.