NY measles emergency declared in Brooklyn

Unvaccinated residents living in the ZIP codes 11205 11206 11211 and 11249 are required to receive the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine to stymie the outbreak. AP

Unvaccinated residents living in the ZIP codes 11205 11206 11211 and 11249 are required to receive the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine to stymie the outbreak. AP

- Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a public health emergency Tuesday in the wake of the rising number of measles cases centered in Williamsburg's Orthodox Jewish community.

Outbreaks nationwide have forced state and city health officials to pursue tougher stances, such as mandatory vaccines or banning unvaccinated children from public places, prompting legal challenges and judicial intervention.

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

More than 280 people in Brooklyn and Queens have come down with measles since September.

"There's no question that vaccines are safe, effective and life-saving", de Blasio said in the news release. It is safe, it is effective, it is time-tested.

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.

They will impose fines of up to $1,000 on those who have not received the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and can not give other evidence of immunity, such as having previously had the measles.

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New York City is just one of seven locations around the country now experiencing a measles outbreak. "We can stop this".

Schlesinger is trying to reverse false information being spread about the measles vaccine through the Orthodox community. City health officials said yesterday that yeshivas in Williamsburg that do not comply will face fines and possible closure.

In a similar directive late past year amid an outbreak, the city ordered schools and child-care centers to keep unvaccinated students out of school.

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. "This is an unusual action, and it's because of the sheer extent of the crisis", de Blasio said.

"I urge everyone, especially those in affected areas, to get their MMR vaccines to protect their children, families and communities", de Blasio said in the statement.

The Brooklyn outbreak has been traced to an unvaccinated child who became infected on a visit to Israel, which is also grappling with an outbreak, according to New York City's Department of Health.

Last week, a judge ruled against an order in New York's Rockland County, temporarily halting an order from health officials there that barred unvaccinated children from public school.

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