Medicine

New York City to yeshivahs

New York City to yeshivahs

NY mayor Bill de Blasio is reassuring parents that the MMR jab is safe, effective and life-saving.

The health order that was declared on Tuesday covers people who live in four ZIP codes in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, where more than 250 people have contracted measles since September.

"This is the epicenter of a measles outbreak that is very, very troubling and must be dealt with immediately", Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said Tuesday. Newborns, pregnant individuals, and those with weakened immune systems can not get vaccinated, so it is important that everyone around them be vaccinated in order to protect them from contracting the virus and prevent severe complications in these susceptible populations.

The city's health commissioner, Oxiris Barbot, said New York's outbreak "is being fueled by a small group of anti-vaxxers in these neighborhoods".

New York City accounted for about two-thirds of all United States measles cases reported last week.

According to New York City's Health Department, "five cases, including the initial case of measles, were acquired on a visit to Israel".

Cases have also been confirmed in Auckland and Christchurch.

The order is signed to remain in effect until the next meeting of the New York City Board of Health on April 17 at which time "it may be continued or rescinded by the board".

The outbreak has been centred in Williamsburg's large community of Orthodox Jews. They have been spreading unsafe misinformation based on fake science. "We've seen a large increase in the number of people vaccinated in these neighbourhoods".

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She also urged parents to avoid the practice of "measles parties", which she said has contributed to the outbreak. Israel, for instance, also has a current measles outbreak.

The mayor said that the goal of the order is not to fine people, but instead to emphasize how serious the issue is and how important it is to get vaccinated.

"And I think it's unethical and completely ridiculous to fine people that feel that they are doing what's best for their children".

"And it's everybody's option to do what he wants".

The measure comes a day after the city ordered Orthodox Jewish schools and day care programs in Williamsburg to exclude unvaccinated students from classes during the outbreak or risk being closed down. Since then, however, there has been a steep increase in reported cases, with at least 465 incidents of measles reported in the US since January 1.

"If anyone is thinking of a legal challenge we are absolutely comfortable that we will win that case", de Blasio said.

Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, the health commissioner there, said that since October she has been waging an uphill fight to persuade people vaccines are safe and necessary to protect the larger community. Officials there and elsewhere have sought to bar unvaccinated children from schools and other public places but have had only limited success.

The mayor said that this is the kernel of a measles epidemic that is extremely disturbing and must be handled with at once.

"Unvaccinated people continue to get measles while overseas and bring the disease into the United States and spread it to others". Called MMR, it protects against measles, mumps and rubella.