New York Orders Mandatory Vaccinations to Get Ahead of Measles Outbreak

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In an unprecedented move, New York City officials have ordered mandatory measles vaccinations in an attempt to stop the spread of the potentially deadly disease, which is largely concentrated among the ultra-Orthodox Jewish population in Brooklyn. The public health emergency was declared on Tuesday and put the broadest vaccination order in the US in approximately three decades into place.

The mandatory measles vaccine order is just the most recent step in an attempted to halt the largest flare-up of the disease since 2000, according to a report by the Washington Post. Travel hot spots that are dealing with their own outbreaks, including Israel, along with misinformation about vaccines have led to an unexpected resurgence of a virus that was once declared eradicated in the US.

New York’s mandatory vaccine order impacts four specific Brooklyn zip codes and is considered one of the farthest-reaching actions by any state or local officials. Officials in New York have already attempted to slow the spreading of the virus by barring unvaccinated children from public places, including schools, but the success of that approach has been limited.

“We cannot allow this dangerous disease to make a comeback here in New York City,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday. “We have to stop it now.”

Since September of last year, at least 285 people are known to have contracted the disease in New York City alone, the majority of which were in the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn. Of those cases, 246 were children, 21 were hospitalized, and five of the hospitalized cases ended up in intensive care.

Thus far, there have been no measles-related deaths in New York City.

“This is the epicenter of a measles outbreak that is very, very troubling and must be dealt with immediately,” said de Blasio during a news conference. “The measles vaccine works. It is safe; it is effective; it is time-tested. . . The faster everyone heeds the order, the faster we can lift it.”

All unvaccinated people in the target zip codes, including children as young as 6 months old, are required to get the vaccine. Those who resist could face a misdemeanor charge as well as a fine of up to $1,000.