Email New York City measles outbreak sees Mayor Bill de Blasio order mandatory vaccines
Updated April 10, 2019 11:41:16
Video: NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announces the order for mandatory vaccinations. (ABC News) Related Story: NY health officials ban unvaccinated children from public places as measles spreads Related Story: Anti-vax children to be locked out of kindy, childcare centres during disease outbreaks Related Story: Aussies are taking on the anti-vaccination movement when Facebook won't Map: United States
New York City has declared a public health emergency over a measles outbreak centred in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community and ordered mandatory vaccinations in the neighbourhood.
- There have been 285 cases of measles confirmed in New York City since the outbreak started
- It is the city's largest measles emergency since 1991
- Officials are worried about increased holiday travel for people who could carry measles into or out of New York
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the unusual order on Tuesday (local time) amid what he said was a measles crisis in Brooklyn's Williamsburg section, where more than 250 people have contracted measles since September.
Officials blamed the outbreak on so-called anti-vaxxers who have spread false information.
The order applies to anyone living, working or going to school in the neighbourhood, and requires all unvaccinated people at risk of exposure to the virus to be vaccinated, including children older than six months.
The city cannot legally physically force someone to get a vaccination, but officials have said people who ignore the order could be fined $US1,000 ($1,400).
The city said it would help everyone covered by the order get the vaccine if it was not quickly available through their regular medical provider.
"If people will simply cooperate quickly, nobody will have to pay a fine," Mr de Blasio said.
Photo: The outbreak is centred in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, where some groups believe vaccinations are dangerous. (Reuters: Shannon Stapleton)
'Spreading dangerous misinformation based on fake science'
Officials said 285 measles cases have been confirmed in New York City since the beginning of the outbreak, the largest in the city since 1991.
Mr de Blasio said in 2017 there were only two cases of the disease in the city.
The signs and symptoms of measles may include:
- General discomfort, illness or lack of wellbeing (malaise)
- Runny nose
- Dry cough
- Sore and red eyes (conjunctivitis)
- Red and bluish spots inside the mouth (Koplik's spots)
- Red and blotchy skin rash that appears first on the face and hairline, and then spreads to the body
Measles outbreak: Are you at risk?
Australians are being urged to check their immunisation history as the number of measles cases in the country climbs towards a five-year high.
"It's a huge spike," he said.
"We have a very serious situation on our hands."
New York City accounted for about two-thirds of all measles cases reported across the US last week.
The city's health commissioner, Dr Oxiris Barbot, said that the majority of religious leaders in Brooklyn's large Orthodox communities supported vaccination efforts, but that rates have remained low in some areas because of resistance from some groups that believed the inoculations were dangerous.
"This outbreak is being fuelled by a small group of anti-vaxxers in these neighbourhoods," Dr Barbot said.
"They have been spreading dangerous misinformation based on fake science.
"We stand with the majority of people in this community who have worked hard to protect their children and those at risk.
"We've seen a large increase in the number of people vaccinated in these neighbourhoods, but as Passover approaches we need to do all we can to ensure more people get the vaccine."
Officials fear increased travel during Passover among people who could carry measles to or from New York. Israel, for instance, also has a current measles outbreak.
Photo: Vaccinations orders can be made when deemed necessary to avert a potential public health threat. (Centres for Disease Control)
News of the order met with a mixed reaction in Williamsburg
Some residents — even those who support vaccination — said they felt uncomfortable with the city pushing vaccines on people who did not want them.
Others remained convinced, against expert assurances, that vaccines were unsafe.
Video: NY county bans unvaccinated kids from public areas amid measles outbreak (ABC News)
"It's true that a lot of people have measles and measles are not a very good thing, but I think the vaccine also not a very good thing," Williamsburg resident Aron Braver said.
"And it's everybody's option to do what he wants. What he decides."
The commissioner is empowered by law to issue such orders in cases when they might be necessary to protect against a serious public health threat.
Earlier this week, the city ordered religious schools and daycare programs serving that community to exclude unvaccinated students or risk being closed down.
Another Jewish religious community, north of the city but with close ties to Brooklyn, has also seen a surge, with at least 166 cases since October.
Last week, a state judge blocked an attempt by Rockland County officials to halt the spread of measles by banning unvaccinated children from public places.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all children get two doses of measles vaccine.
It said the vaccine was 97 per cent effective.
Topics: health, vaccines-and-immunity, diseases-and-disorders, united-states
First posted April 10, 2019 10:13:01
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