New York's mayor declared a public health emergency in parts of Brooklyn on Tuesday, ordering all residents to be vaccinated to fight a measles outbreak concentrated in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. So far, 21 people have been hospitalized. This is the second-greatest number of cases reported in the US since measles was eliminated in 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Meanwhile, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention elevated its response to measles, establishing a larger team to focus on outbreaks that have sickened 465 people nationwide this year - the second-greatest number of cases reported in the USA since measles was eliminated domestically in 2000.
"There is no religious exemption on measles", Gary Schlesinger, CEO of Parcare Community Health Network, told WLNY.
In the city alone, 285 cases have been confirmed - 246 of which have been in children. Israel, for instance, also has a current measles outbreak. "It is safe. It is effective".
"If people ignore our order", he added, "We will issue fines".
New York City's order applies to unvaccinated people who live, work or go to school in four ZIP codes, with some exceptions, such as for children under 6 months old. Violators could face a fine of $1,000, officials said.
In an April 9 interview on WAMC with Alan Chartok, chief executive office of the Northeast Public Radio station, New York Governor Andrew Cumo said he thought the debate over parental rights to not vaccine their children against the right of the public to be protected would end up in the courts. "We can stop this".
Some Orthodox Jews have resisted vaccines. Some residents - even those who support vaccination - said they felt uncomfortable about the city pushing inoculations on people who don't want them.
Public health nurse Deb Floren shows a vial of the measles vaccine Thursday at the Kandiyohi County Health and Human Services Building in Willmar.
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Earlier this week, the city ordered religious schools and day care programs serving that community to exclude unvaccinated students or risk being closed down.
Insured adults and children will be covered. The outbreak is primarily affecting the Orthodox Jewish community. "All rabbis, all prominent rabbis have issued proclamations that everyone should vaccinate".
"In Judaism, the majority has the right to dictate what takes place in the public space to ward off danger".
Still, he said, "there is no pope in Judaism, and no one can force you to vaccinate".
"We have also received reports that there are people attending so called measles parties bringing children together to purposely get exposed to measles".
The emergency order came as the city, a suburban ny county and some other parts of the nation grapple with a spurt in a disease the US declared eradicated nearly two decades ago. Michigan's current measles outbreak dates back to March 13, when the health department reported that the first case came from someone "visiting from Israel following a stay in NY". A state judge overturned that decision 10 days later.
In Kentucky, a high school student sued state health officials after he was barred from playing basketball because he wasn't vaccinated for chickenpox.
He claimed the vaccine was against his religious beliefs.
This article was written by Alex Horton and Lindsey Bever, reporters for The Washington Post.