Due to come into effect at midnight Wednesday for 30 days, it appears to be the most radical step by USA officials following outbreaks in several regions blamed on an anti-vaccination movement.
Children who haven't been vaccinated against measles have been banned from public places in one United States county. "Last year, not just one but seven unvaccinated travelers diagnosed with measles entered our county between October 1 and October 17 leading to 153 confirmed cases", he said.
"We believe this to be the first such effort of this kind nationally and the circumstances we face here clearly call for that", Rockland County Executive Ed Day said at a press conference.
The law would be enforced as any other emergency declaration and those found in violation might end up in jail for to six months or with a $500 fine, Day said, noting that the law was aimed at encouraging people, not punishing.
"Measles is highly contagious, so anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of getting the disease, and they may spread measles to people who can not get vaccinated because they are too young or have specific health conditions". Public health officials are likely keeping a close eye on Rockland County's latest order to see how well it works.
The new regulation comes two weeks after a federal judge in NY ruled not to lift a ban which would have allowed 40 unvaccinated children to return to school, where they have been barred for months amid a county-wide measles outbreak.More news: Kobe Bryant ranks the top three basketball players of all time
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Much of the measles cases in NY have been concentrated among children of Orthodox Jewish families, many of whom attend religious schools where the vaccination rates are below 95 percent, which is the threshold considered necessary to maintain immunity among the community, known as herd immunity, according to Kaiser Health News.
Top rabbis and other community leaders have urged residents to get vaccinated, and most children in the community do get the shot.
The newspaper adds that the outbreak has been largely concentrated in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in Rockland. "I must take this step to protect the infants, infirm, and ill of this County who are unable to be vaccinated against the measles or who are immunocompromised", Day said in the declaration.
"We don't want to fine people", he said.
"We're doing it in such a way to just get attention at this point so that people understand the seriousness of what they are doing-and not doing", he explained. As of March 21, there have been 314 documented measles cases this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Health Department is offering free vaccines to boost the county's immunization rate.
"This type of response is unacceptable and frankly irresponsible", he said.