De Blasio defends vaccination mandate from planned legal challenge

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) vowed Thursday that the city would defeat a lawsuit challenging his order for members of a Brooklyn neighborhood experiencing a measles outbreak to get vaccinated or pay a $1,000 fine.

In an interview with WCBS news radio, the mayor blamed the lawsuit on efforts by anti-vaccination activists to mislead people about the supposed dangers of inoculation.

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“The more I’m hearing, the more I realize it's a really small group of strong anti-vaccination voices that convinced a number of parents of something that is factually wrong,” de Blasio said, adding: “We will beat them."

A majority Hasidic Jewish community in the Williamsburg neighborhood is suing the city over de Blasio's order this week that would require parents to provide proof that they and their children are vaccinated or pay a $1,000 fine. They are represented by Michael Sussman, a civil rights attorney, according to WCBS.

De Blasio announced the order on Tuesday at a news conference, declaring a public health emergency in the neighborhood and urging residents to heed the order.

"This is very pinpointed, very localized," de Blasio said at the press conference alongside the city's health commissioner. "The faster everyone heeds the order, the faster we can lift it."

"There's no question that vaccines are safe, effective and life-saving," he added Tuesday. "I urge everyone, especially those in affected areas, to get their MMR [measles, mumps and rubella] vaccines to protect their children, families and communities."

No deaths have yet been reported due to the outbreak, but the mayor said Tuesday that "serious" hospitalizations had occurred.