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New York City declares public health emergency


Outbreaks across the U.S. have forced officials to declare emergencies. Why are we starting to see the rise of these outbreaks? It dates back to the anti-vax movement.
Just the FAQs, USA TODAY

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a public health emergency Tuesday in parts of Brooklyn’s Williamsburg section following a measles outbreak affecting the Orthodox Jewish community.

Unvaccinated people living in designated ZIP codes who may have been exposed to measles will be required to receive the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine to protect others from the ongoing outbreak, the mayor said.

The outbreak began in October, but many of these new cases were confirmed in the last two months. The vast majority of cases are children under 18 years of age – and most of these measles cases were unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated people, health officials said.

Measles are highly contagious, but the vaccination is considered 97% effective, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More: What are states doing about measles cases?

“There’s no question that vaccines are safe, effective and life-saving,” de Blasio said. “The bottom line is to recognize that this is something has has become even more urgent.”

Members of the City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will check the vaccination records of people who may have been in contact with infected patients. Those who have not received the vaccine or do not have evidence of immunity may be given a violation and could be fined $1,000, the mayor said.

In February, the department expanded vaccination recommendations for providers serving the Orthodox Jewish community to include an early, extra dose of the vaccine for children ages 6 months to 11 months who live in Williamsburg and Borough Park.

“It does interconnect with the anti-vaxx movement that is not just in the community, its national and its causing lots of problems,” de Blasio said Tuesday.

On Monday, the city Health Department has issued formal orders to all yeshivas – jewish schools – in Williamsburg to comply with the mandatory exclusion of unvaccinated children or face fines and possibly be shut down.

The number of measles cases recorded across the USA rose by almost 100 last week as the annual total continued its march toward record levels, federal health officials reported Monday.

More: Anti-vaxxers open door for measles, mumps, other old-time diseases back from near extinction

The CDC said 465 cases have been confirmed in 19 states in 2019, the second-highest total since measles was declared eliminated in the USA almost two decades ago.

The surge has been fueled in part by the anti-vaccination movement – most people who contract measles have not been vaccinated, the CDC said. If one person has the disease, up to 90% of the people close to that person will become infected if they are not immune, the CDC warned.

The World Health Organization described the disease as a prominent cause of death among young children, despite the availability of an effective vaccine. More than 110,000 people, mostly children, died of measles worldwide in 2017. 

The last U.S. measles death on record was in 2015.

More: Vaccines are definitely not linked to autism, and other facts you can throw at anti-vaxers


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