NYC measles outbreak: First vaccination fines, 4 more schools shut down

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. among the lawyers representing an anti-vaxxer group that’s suing NYC over mandatory measles vaccination

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. among the lawyers representing an anti-vaxxer group that’s suing NYC over mandatory measles vaccination

The parents were protesting the city Health Department's emergency order requiring people who live in certain parts of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to get vaccinated amid a measles outbreak there.

The violations announced Thursday were issued to parents of unvaccinated children who had been exposed to measles.

The same day, a NY judge dismissed a lawsuit brought against the city's Department of Health by five parents fighting against the order.

The department confirmed four more schools were shutdown for failing to cooperate. "A fireman need not obtain the informed consent of the owner before extinguishing a house fire", Judge Lawrence Knipel wrote in his ruling. "Vaccination is known to extinguish the fire of contagion", the judge wrote.

As of Thursday, the New York City health department counted "359 confirmed cases of measles in Brooklyn and Queens since October", noting the outbreak is hitting predominantly Orthodox Jewish communities.

Meanwhile, the New York City Health Department closed four more schools and fined three people Thursday for failing to comply with the emergency order while allowing a school that was forced to close Tuesday for failing to provide its students access to vaccination and attendance records to reopen, NBC New York reported.

Robert Krakow, the parents' attorney, said that his clients were disappointed and that they were discussing next steps, according to the Journal.

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Department spokesperson, Lennox Mabaso, said persistent rain in the area may have led to the collapse of the building. Local officials have blamed the tragedy on heavy rainfall in the area around eMpangeni on Thursday night.

The parents of the three children-who are from three separate households-face $1,000 fines if an officer upholds the summons in a hearing. They could also be fined $2,000 if they do not show up at the hearing or respond to the summons.

The city said its health authority is working with community leaders to ensure schools comply with emergency mandates.

The court ruled the current outbreak is sufficient to warrant the designation of a public health emergency.

Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot said, "This decision will protect New Yorkers from a very risky infection with potentially fatal consequences".

He said 3,300 children in Williamsburg - the epicenter of the outbreak - had not received their shots.

According to The Post, officials expect the outbreak to get worse before it gets better, "especially as the week-long Passover holiday approaches and families gather at one another's homes". "It's to stress the urgency and the importance of getting vaccinated and to enlist as many people as possible spreading the message that these vaccines are safe and effective".

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