April 19, 2019

New Yorkers ordered to get measles jabs

11 April 2019, 08:14 | Randall Craig

Enlarge Image AP

Bill de Blasio

New York City took the extraordinary step of ordering mandatory vaccinations on Tuesday as it declared a public health emergency over a measles outbreak.

"I urge everyone, especially those in affected areas, to get their MMR vaccines to protect their children, families and communities", de Blasio said in a statement.

The Brooklyn outbreak has been tied to an unvaccinated child who contracted the disease during a trip to Israel, which has recently seen a high incidence of measles, the Washington Post reported.

The mandatory vaccination order follows an order from the Health Department last week requiring yeshivas and day-care programmes serving Williamsburg's Orthodox Jewish community to exclude unvaccinated children or face fines or closure.

De Blasio's vaccination order applies to all people, including children over six months old, who may have been exposed to the virus.

Measles cases are on the rise in New Jersey and just across the state line in NY.

City Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot added, "As a pediatrician, I know the MMR vaccine is safe and effective".

The nation's biggest city is in the midst of its biggest measles outbreak since 1991, with 285 cases diagnosed since last fall - compared to two in all of 2017, officials said.

Schlesinger is trying to reverse false information being spread about the measles vaccine through the Orthodox community.

Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, the health commissioner there, said that since October she has been waging an uphill fight to persuade people vaccines are safe and necessary to protect the larger community.

In the meantime, outbreaks like those in New York City continue to spread.

On Tuesday, de Blasio said the city would fine or even temporarily shut down yeshivas that did not abide by the order, The Times reported. "They have been spreading risky misinformation based on fake science". California ended a similar exemption in 2015 after a measles outbreak at Disneyland sickened 147 people and spread across the US and into Canada. "When people choose not to get their children vaccinated, they are putting their children and others - such as pregnant women, people on chemotherapy, and the elderly - at risk of contracting measles". Newborns, pregnant individuals, and those with weakened immune systems can not get vaccinated, so it is important that everyone around them be vaccinated in order to protect them from contracting the virus and prevent severe complications in these susceptible populations.

The highly contagious airborne pathogen produces symptoms including fever, cough, and a runny nose, and can cause diarrhea, ear infection, pneumonia, encephalitis, and death - with about 1 of every 1,367 kids infected dying due to fatal complications from measles.

Neighborhood officials said the vast majority of Orthodox Jews in Williamsburg are vaccinated, but because the community is so tightly knit, just a small number of anti-vaxers is allowing this outbreak to grow.

People are considered immune if they have received two doses of MMR vaccine, have had a measles illness previously, or were born before 1969.

And if infected individuals travel to other areas that also have low vaccination rates, they could "seed" outbreaks in those areas, too. The cases led to 21 hospitalizations, including five admissions to intensive care units.

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