Three New York parents face $1,000 fines for failing to vaccinate children

Three New York parents face $1,000 fines for failing to vaccinate children
© Getty Images

New York City public health officials said they issued summonses to the parents of three children Thursday for failing to vaccinate their children against the measles.

The parents’ refusal to vaccinate their children is a violation of an emergency order from the city’s public health department, which requires mandatory vaccinations in an effort to control New York's largest measles outbreak in decades.

ADVERTISEMENT

The adults face a $1,000 fine if a hearing officer upholds the summons. Failing to appear at the hearing or respond to the summons will result in a $2,000 fine, but no criminal charges.

Public health officials said an investigation found three children who were exposed to the measles but still unvaccinated as of April 12, when the mandatory order took effect.

As of Wednesday, the city has confirmed 359 cases of the measles since the start of the outbreak last October, an increase of 30 cases just since Monday.

Most of the cases in New York have involved members of the Orthodox Jewish community. The mandatory vaccination order required people living in four ZIP codes in Brooklyn to receive a measles, mumps and rubella vaccine within 48 hours.

The majority of cases, 284, are children under 18 years of age, and 45 cases are adults. Most of these measles cases were unvaccinated or had only one dose of the vaccine.

There have been no deaths associated with the outbreak, although there have been complications, including 25 hospitalizations and six admissions to the intensive care unit, officials said.

Five cases, including the initial case of measles, were acquired on a visit to Israel, where a large outbreak of the disease is occurring. Two people contracted measles from the United Kingdom and one from Ukraine.

“Because of measles’ long incubation period, we know this outbreak will get worse before it gets better. However, we can turn the tide by people getting vaccinated, especially before Passover when families and communities will gather,” New York Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot said in a statement.

Health officials also announced they had closed four additional schools for noncompliance with measles vaccine requirements. The health department ordered a yeshiva preschool closed on Tuesday for failing to provide access to vaccination and attendance records, but it has now been allowed to reopen.

In a related development Thursday, a Brooklyn judge sided with the city, ruling that the mandatory vaccination order can continue.

The judge dismissed a lawsuit from a group of anonymous parents who claimed the city had overstepped its authority.