Medicine

NY mandates vaccine to contain Brooklyn measles outbreak

NY mandates vaccine to contain Brooklyn measles outbreak

New York City's health commissioner has declared a public health emergency over a major measles outbreak in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, with 250 cases documented in the area since September 2018.

In an effort to contain the outbreak, Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced a city mandate that will require unvaccinated individuals living within four specific zip codes of Williamsburg to receive the measles vaccine or face possible fines.

Most of the NY cases involved unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated individuals, according to De Blasio's office.

"If people will simply cooperate quickly, nobody will have to pay a fine", de Blasio said.

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.

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Anyone needing a vaccine can visit the city's website for locations at NYC.gov/health or by calling 311.

A total of 465 cases across 19 states have been confirmed this year, according to the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition to measles' miserable symptoms of dry cough, runny nose, sore throat, white spots inside the lining of the cheeks and skin rashes, there's also fever - up to 105 degrees. The red spots emerge on your head and spread to the rest of your body. "I urge everyone, especially those in affected areas, to get their [mumps-measles-rubella] vaccines to protect their children, families and communities".

Health officials made a specific point to condemn the resurgence of "measles parties", get-togethers where parents gather unvaccinated children with kids already suffering with measles in order to intentionally infect the group at a young age. The second dose is given when the child is between 4 and 6 years old.

Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Herminia Palacio echoed de Blasio's comments citing the safety and effectiveness of the MMR vaccine. "I know that getting vaccinated is far safer than getting measles".

The United States measles vaccination program began in 1963. Once people have become infected by measles, their bodies build up their immune systems to prevent new inflections. Less than 20% of those cases were even reported to the CDC, the agency estimated. Extreme cases show 1 in 1,000 people suffering brain swelling, which could lead to brain damage.