New York City health officials on Wednesday said they have confirmed 31 new cases of measles in less than a week, including two pregnant women, inching the United States closer to a record.
Officials said they also issued summonses to 12 parents for failing to vaccinate their children, a violation of an emergency order from the city’s public health department.
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.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides its official update on Monday, so it’s possible there have been new cases not yet tallied.
“We have now identified two expectant mothers who have contracted measles. These cases are stark reminders of why New Yorkers must get vaccinated against the measles as soon as possible. When we do not get vaccinated, we put our friends, our relatives, our neighbors, our classmates and other fellow New Yorkers at risk,” New York Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot said in a statement.
In a past outbreak of measles, cases in pregnant women resulted in a baby being born with measles and a miscarriage, the health department said.
New York has the largest measles outbreak in the country. More than 80 percent of all measles cases in the city have been concentrated among Orthodox Jews living in four ZIP codes within the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn; the same areas are under the mandatory vaccination order.
The anti-vaccine movement has been spreading disinformation about vaccines among vulnerable populations like New York’s Orthodox community, which has led to high rates of vaccine refusal and overall hesitancy.