New York County prohibits unvaccinated children in public due to measles spread


But Day acknowledged that there will be no joint enforcement effort and that the intent is not to arrest people, but to emphasize the seriousness of the situation.


Vaccination.Credit:Wayne Venables

"There will be no police or delegates asking for immunization records," Day said. "However, parents will be held liable if they are found to be in violation of this emergency declaration."

The county is experiencing the longest measles outbreak in New York State since the disease was declared officially eliminated from the United States in 2000. Health officials say the best way to prevent the spread of the disease is a vaccination rate in the community from 92 to 95 percent.

Day said that only 72.9 percent of people under the age of 18 were vaccinated against measles in Rockland County, which has more than 300,000 residents.

Civil rights lawyer Michael Sussman, who represents the parents of 44 unvaccinated children who were barred from entering a Waldorf school in the county, said they will discuss a possible emergency challenge at a meeting with their clients Tuesday night .

"It's irrational," Sussman said. "You're punishing people who do not have the disease instead of quarantining people who are sick."

Sussman said that the quarantine of measles patients and those close to them would quickly halt the spread of the disease.

This month, a federal judge, citing the "unprecedented measles outbreak," denied the parents' request for unvaccinated children to return to Waldorf School.

The lawsuit said that the county's order prohibiting unvaccinated children from schools, regardless of religious or medical exemptions, violates their constitutional rights.


The outbreak began in the Rockland area when seven unvaccinated travelers diagnosed with measles entered the county last October. There have been 153 cases to date, Day said.

In the first days of the outbreak, people were cooperating with health authorities and vaccinating children, he said, but that has changed.

"Our health inspectors were turned off and told not to call again. They said," We're not discussing this, do not come back, "when they visit the homes of infected individuals as part of their investigations." Day said. "That kind of response is unacceptable and downright irresponsible."

On the same day that the federal judge's decision on children at the school, pediatric organizations expressed support for state legislation that would allow children to be vaccinated without parental consent.


Democratic sponsors of state legislation said many parents believe vaccines are not safe and cause autism or other conditions. Day echoed this message, watching celebrities who demonstrated against the vaccines.

"If you go People magazine and Jenny McCarthy and Robert De Niro for your medical advice, you need to reevaluate your life, "he said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists six outbreaks of measles, defined as three or more cases, across the country in 2019, including that of Rockland County. The CDC said the outbreaks are linked to travelers who brought the disease back from other countries, such as Israel and Ukraine, where large outbreaks of measles are occurring.

There have been 181 confirmed cases of measles in Brooklyn and Queens since October, most involving members of the Orthodox Jewish community, according to the CDC.

Day said the emergency order was timed with the upcoming Easter and Easter holidays in mind.

"We want people to celebrate," he said. "We do not want to see a repeat of how this outbreak began when we saw people reunited and then fell ill last fall."

The CDC says 15 states had at least one measles case confirmed in 2019, for a total of 314 cases so far. In 2014, 667 cases were confirmed nationwide and there were 372 cases in 2018.


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