Public health emergency declared in New York over measles outbreak

New York City officials said Tuesday that a public health emergency exists in parts of Brooklyn after a spike in measles cases.

Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said during a press conference that city residents who are not vaccinated for the disease should do so amid an outbreak in the Williamsburg neighborhood of the Brooklyn borough. People living in the area who are not vaccinated will be subject to fines, according to de Blasio.

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If parents in the Williamsburg neighborhood cannot provide proof that their children have been vaccinated for the disease, they will be subject to $1,000 fines.

"This is very pinpointed, very localized," de Blasio said. "The faster everyone heeds the order, the faster we can lift it."

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

De Blasio and other city officials noted during a press conference Tuesday that the Williamsburg neighborhood is a majority Hasidic Jewish community, adding that they had increased outreach in Yiddish publications and with community leaders to combat the outbreak.

During the news conference, officials put the blame on misinformation about vaccines spread by anti-vaccine activists for contributing to the outbreak, telling reporters that it "certainly" made things worse.

No deaths have yet been reported due to the outbreak of the disease, but de Blasio confirmed that some "serious" hospitalizations had occurred.

"We have a very dangerous situation on our hands," he said Tuesday, according to NBC New York. "We cannot allow this dangerous disease to make a comeback here in New York City. We have to stop it now."

Updated at 11:33 a.m.