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NEW YORK — New York City declared a public health emergency Tuesday over a measles outbreak and ordered mandatory vaccinations in one neighborhood for people who may have been exposed to the virus.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the unusual order amid what he said was a measles “crisis” in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg section, where more than 250 people, mostly members of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish religious community, have gotten measles since September.


The order applies to anyone living, working or going to school in four ZIP codes in the neighborhood. The declaration requires all unvaccinated people who may have been exposed to the virus to get the vaccine, including children over 6 months old.

People who ignore the order could be fined $1,000. The city said it would help everyone covered by the order get the vaccine if they can’t get it quickly through their regular medical provider.

“If people will simply cooperate quickly, nobody will have to pay a fine,” de Blasio said.


Officials say 285 measles cases have been confirmed in New York City since the beginning of the outbreak, the largest in the city since 1991.

New York City accounted for about two-thirds of all U.S. measles cases reported last week.

The city’s health commissioner, Dr. Oxiris Barbot, said that the majority of religious leaders in Brooklyn’s large Orthodox communities support vaccination efforts, but that rates have remained low in some areas because of resistance from some groups that believe the inoculations are dangerous.

“This outbreak is being fueled by a small group of anti-vaxxers in these neighborhoods. They have been spreading dangerous misinformation based on fake science,” Barbot said. “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 neighborhoods, but as Passover approaches, we need to do all we can to ensure more people get the vaccine.”

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 day care 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 says the vaccine is 97% effective.

  • Nuremberg codes? SMH. Like mass extermination is comparable to preventing disease in people that can potentially fatally harm those who have cancer/undergoing treatment, HIV/AIDS, babies before shots, etc. With so many other medical needs to pay for, why should the taxpayer have to foot the bill for preventable disease? 1 kid who refused a tetanus shot cost the taxpayer > $800K. Easiest thing to do: refuse vaccination, taxpayer refuses to pay for medical bills. Insurance should refuse to pick up the tab. People have hardened attitudes and closed minds. Taxpayer has to start hardening theirs and closing the wallet. I know people who had polio and mumps. Seen a diptheria throat. Lasting permanent damage. Know people with autism. They’ve got more college degrees than me, got good jobs. SMH.

  • If you look at the nuremberg codes to prevent authoritative abuse of mankind vaccinated without a informed consent is a crime against humanity. Its to easy to abuse to make it the normal course of action, and fining people who refuse is the same thing as forced… its a do it or else. If people want to get sick let them, but a biological injection against there will is where the real threats lie… an people who dont see that arent looking to the future and are putting life above freedom… “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?” -Patrick Henry March 23, 1775 People in todays insulated world that reinforces actions of cowardice and submission… give away soooo many of their rights to protect themselves…. and its a spit in the face of every american who laid down their life fighting for those freedoms, some of which didnt even matter to them.. but knew that a cause worth dying for offered a purpose for a life worth living.

  • What makes me sad is they always blame it on “anti-vaxxers”. The reason why so many are vaccine hesitant, I can say from personal experience, is because anyone who questions vaccines is considered an “anti-vaxxer”, and people who might have been looking for answers are treated like pariah. My son had a severe reaction to the dtp at age 2 months. For 20 years, I used to peruse pubmed, antivaccination sites, pro-vaccination sites, just trying to figure out what happened. It was not good, everyone’s hair was on fire on both sides. Whoever questioned the others ideology was evil. FINALLY, a MD who had witnessed 3 of the rare (1 in 1000-7000) reactions told me EXACTLY what happened. It wasn’t as bad as I feared, but it was info that I couldn’t obtain myself. Twenty years of wondering…Next: people with certain neurological conditions are more prone to severe reactions, and some of those kids are….wait for it….autistic! It’s not Andrew Wakefield who says this, it is the World Health Organization, who have skin in the game, unlike the wanna be science heroes who get a distinct pleasure from demonizing parents. It’s not about science for them, it’s about “winning” arguments. It’s sad, really….studies have shown that belittlement only causes people to dig into their misguided beliefs more firmly. The vaccination heroes, then, feed the contagion of misinformation parents of autistic children whose children have had severe reactions to vaccines, like me, the exact opposite of what they want to do. Parents, make the best choices you can, your doctors do have your children’s lives in mind…Scientists, understand that the brick wall surrounding vaccines doesn’t educate anyone. Tear down that wall, and listen to what parents have been begging to ask for decades. And those of you who insist you have all the answers, you are the first I have ever known among parents and scientists. Congratulations…kind of…

  • NYC has a population of about 8 million people, and there have been 285 cases of measles–and this is over a period of several months, beginning in Oct 2018. A public health emergency? There have been no deaths, and I don’t think any hospitalizations. Back in the day, prior to the vaccine, there were about 3-4 million cases a year! And about 500 deaths–mostly among those with comorbid conditions, infants, immunosuppressed, etc. The death rate/complications is very very low in a country like the US with a modern medical system. Most children just need some TLC, fluids, fever reducers, etc. This is not Ebola, it is not the plague, it is measles. The vast majority of people are either immunized or immune by having had the disease. The absolute numbers who are at risk from this “outbreak” is very small. If it was a real public health emergency, we would be seeing thousands of cases. Which we are not, from any of these recent “dire” outbreaks, where state of emergencies are being declared for a few cases of measles. And trying to paint the disease as being more deadly than it is. Instead of wasting time and money on trying to violate the rights of the population, how about putting that same effort into making sure that the people who actually have measles are tracked, as well as those actually exposed to it. What these articles and news stories tend to do is blur the distinction between unvaccinated and infected. If you haven’t had the vaccine then you must be infected. By that logic, I am currently infected with the flu, cholera, typhoid fever, Hep A and B, rabies, yellow fever, meningitis, etc, because I haven’t had any of those vaccines. And as a disclaimer, in case I get attacked for this comment, I am not anti-vaccine and am an RN. How about we pay attention to some of the real healthcare issues? In NYC, there are about 60,000 homeless people–many in need of mental health care and interventions for substance abuse.

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