New York county declares state of emergency over measles

Rockland County, New York, has declared a state of emergency after more than 150 people were diagnosed with measles.

Beginning at midnight on Wednesday, any resident of the county under 18 who has not yet received the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine will be barred from public places until the end of the 30-day emergency declaration or until they receive the vaccine, according to ABC News.

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Measles outbreaks in New York have been reported since October and have been the longest and most widespread of several measles outbreaks nationwide, according to Kaiser Health News. As of the first week of March, 275 cases had been confirmed in the Empire State.

The cases have reportedly been largely concentrated in Orthodox Jewish communities, including children who attend religious schools that have vaccination rates below the 95 percent threshold necessary to maintain immunity, according to Kaiser.

In many cases, members of the community also reportedly believe vaccinations are against Jewish law.

“There’s not a single opinion that says vaccination is against Jewish law,” Dr. Aaron Glatt, a rabbi who also serves as chairman of the department of medicine at South Nassau Communities Hospital on Long Island, told Kaiser.

Rockland County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert at first prohibited 6,000 unvaccinated children at 60 schools and day care centers from attending classes, saying the number of barred students has dropped as more children have been vaccinated. About 3,800 students at 35 schools remain barred from attendance, according to Kaiser.