On Monday, April 15, five unnamed mothers filed a lawsuit in New York City in an attempt to block the mandatory vaccination order in specific zip codes that are at the center of a massive measles outbreak. Earlier this month, city officials declared a public health emergency to help combat the epidemic that has sickened at least 329 people.
The mandatory vaccination order, according to a report by Ars Technica, applies to a group of zip codes that are viewed as being at the center of the outbreak by city health officials. The majority of the 329 known cases of the measles were children, and the city is requiring all unvaccinated people to follow the order.
To comply, all people in the zip codes must either prove existing immunity, have a valid medical exemption, or receive the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine. Those who do not comply could face a fine in the amount of $1,000.
In the lawsuit, the moms claim that the measles outbreak is not a dangerous epidemic, calling the order by the city “arbitrary and capricious.” However, measles can cause serious complications and does have the potential to be fatal.
They also claim that there are safety concerns regarding the MMR vaccine – though no legitimate scientific research backs up that assertion and serious side effects are incredibly rare – and that the order is a violation of their religious freedom.
This lawsuit is just one example of anti-vaccine parents’ efforts to challenge decisions made by public health officials who are trying to curb the outbreaks.
On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control updated their measles count, identifying 555 cases across 20 states, which is the second largest number since measles was declared to be eliminated in the US in 2000. The largest tally occurred in 2014, when 667 cases were reported during the year. Since 2019 is not even halfway over, many assume that this year will be the worst one for measles in this century in the US before it is over.
Previous steps by health departments that were taken to help stop the spread of measles have included barring unvaccinated people from schools and public places, and multiple governments declaring public health emergencies based on the outbreaks.
Anti-vaccine parents have challenged some of those moves in court as well, including a group of parents who filed lawsuits regarding unvaccinated children being barred from entering schools or heading to public places.