New York extends mandatory measles vaccination order

The New York City Board of Health unanimously voted Wednesday to extend to extend a public health emergency in parts of Brooklyn as the borough continues to struggle with a measles outbreak. 

The mandate, which was first implemented last week, orders that residents in the neighborhood of Williamsburg aged 6 months or older get vaccinated for the disease or face a fine of $1,000. The order was extended until officials declare the outbreak is over.

ADVERTISEMENT

Over 300 people have reportedly come down with the measles since October and over 20 have gone to the hospital over the illness. Over half of the city’s measles cases are in children under four years old, though officials say over 3,300 children have yet to be vaccinated, according to New York One.

Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot expressed optimism that the order was having the desired effect, estimating that 500 children aged 1 to 5 in Williamsburg were vaccinated last week alone.

“The purpose of this emergency order isn’t to fine people,” Barbot said. “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.”

A group of Brooklyn parents earlier this week filed a lawsuit against the city over the emergency order, claiming that it was “arbitrary and capricious.” The plaintiffs argue there is “insufficient evidence of a measles epidemic or dangerous outbreak to justify" the order.” Other residents in the heavily Orthodox Jewish community have said that vaccines go against their religious beliefs. 

“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 last week, adding: “We will beat them.”

Confirmed measles cases in the U.S. rose by 90 in the past week to reach the second-highest number of cases reported in 25 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.