Lawyer: Challenge to NYC’s vaccination order in the works

Lawyer: Challenge to NYC's vaccination order in the works

Facing a rapidly spreading outbreak of measles, Mayor Bill de Blasio has rightly declared a public health emergency, with fines for those who refuse to be vaccinated. If New Yorkers fail to take up the offer, they face $1,000 fines. The city health department ordered all ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools in a neighborhood of Brooklyn on Monday to exclude unvaccinated students from classes during the current measles outbreak.

The most recent tally by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows 465 cases across the U.S.so far this year, two-thirds of them in NY state.

"This is the epicenter of a measles outbreak that is very, very troubling and must be dealt with immediately", de Blasio said at a news conference on Tuesday in Williamsburg. "Those who have not been vaccinated with the MMR vaccine or have not had measles in the past are at risk of measles". "It is safe, it is effective, it is time-tested". There is no longer any reason to fear measles exposure at those sites, officials said.

"As a society we've said we'll allow a little bit of flexibility in our laws in order to give people a wider berth to exercise their personal beliefs", Indiana University public health law professor Ross D. Silverman recently told Wired magazine.

Dr Oxiris Barbot, the New York City health commissioner, said there had been reports of "measles parties" in the area in which parents deliberately expose their children to measles so that they become naturally immune after contracting the virus.

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Authorities will carry out the order by interviewing Williamsburg residents who have been diagnosed with measles and then interviewing everyone who those people have come in contact with. Anyone who is unsure about his/her or their child's vaccination status can work with their health care provider's office or school to obtain their vaccination records. Health officials say cases have been confirmed in Westchester and Sullivan Counties following the spike in infections in Rockland County and the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. "We have to protect our kids and our families", de Blasio said.

A recent measles outbreak in NY and other states has left scientists wondering if the disease was ever truly vanquished. None of the measles cases in Brooklyn has been deadly, but the measles virus- usually recognized by a rash of red spots- can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis, and even death.

Westchester County announced on Wednesday that eight local children, six of whom are siblings, and all are from Northern Westchester, have been confirmed to have measles.

But Begun said a larger number may delay the first measles-mumps-rubella vaccine until 2 years of age instead of the recommended 1 year, vastly increasing the number of unvaccinated children who can be infected.

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