NYC declares emergency over measles outbreak, mandates vaccinations

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Health officials are also urging people to vaccinate their children if they plan on traveling to upstate New York, Israel, Europe or other parts of the us where outbreaks are occurring. "We unfortunately still witnessed a drop in the vaccination rate due to vaccine hesitancy", the DOH added. While not keen on the idea of forcing people to take medical precautions, she said, "You have to weigh the public health issues". Also each year, among reported cases, an estimated 400 to 500 people died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and 1,000 suffered encephalitis (swelling of the brain) from measles.

Last December, New York City ordered students who were not vaccinated against measles to be prohibited from attending classes in ultra-Orthodox schools in selected ZIP codes, but city officials have admitted the order was not effective.

A growing measles outbreak in New York City has led officials to declare a public health emergency in parts of the city.

And throughout the press conference, city officials reiterated the safety and effectiveness of the measles vaccine, with the city's chief physician describing an annual national death toll that reached into the hundreds before the measles vaccine was invented.

"There's no question that vaccines are safe, effective and life-saving", de Blasio told reporters. Parents of children older than six months must get them vaccinated or show proof of immunization. Similarly, tightly clustered religious communities, insulated from mainstream society, also tend to suffer higher flare-ups of the highly contagious virus because the group's level of immunity has fallen. Those who don't comply and can't prove their immunity could be fined up to $1,000.

Three 2018 outbreaks in NY state and New Jersey, which added to a large portion of the cases recorded a year ago, were altogether connected withtravelers who brought measles back from Israel, where a large outbreak is occurring. Only 39 cases involve adults.

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Like all but three American states, NY requires a series of vaccinations for school-age children but has until now granted exemptions on both medical and religious grounds. Officials blamed the outbreak on "anti-vaxxers" spreading false information.

"So there's no financial reason not to get this vaccine and there's plenty of locations that will be available, it should not be hard for people to get what they need to protect themselves and to protect their children", said the mayor.

The order concerns all people living or working in four zip codes of Williamsburg, northwest Brooklyn, where some residents oppose vaccines on religious grounds - although neither Jewish texts nor local Jewish authorities advise against vaccination.

Across the United States, there have been 465 measles cases since the start of 2019, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Monday.

Forty cases came from one Jewish educational institution, or yeshiva.

There have been almost 300 cases of measles in the city, particularly concentrated in Orthodox Jewish communities in Williamsburg in Brooklyn, Buzzfeed News reports. At least 285 people have contracted the disease in the city since September, mostly in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighbourhood. Almost 83,000 people contracted measles in Europe in 2018, the highest number in a decade.

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