NY orders mandatory vaccinations amid measles outbreak

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday a declared a public health emergency in a heavily Orthodox Jewish section of Brooklyn amid a growing measles outbreak.

Since last October, the community has seen 285 cases of measles, prompting the city to order child care centers and yeshivas in Jewish communities throughout Williamsburg to keep non-vaccinated children from attending until the outbreak subsided.

"This outbreak is being fuelled by a small group of anti-vaxxers in these neighbourhoods".

De Blasio's vaccination order applies to all people, including children over six months old, who may have been exposed to the virus. Since then, however, there has been a steep increase in reported cases, with at least 465 incidents of measles reported in the USA since January 1.

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also announced Tuesday that they were setting up a special team to oversee and manage the agency's response to ongoing measles outbreaks.

Schlesinger is trying to reverse false information being spread about the measles vaccine through the Orthodox community.

The city's health commissioner, Dr Oxiris Barbot, said that the majority of religious leaders in Brooklyn's large Orthodox communities support vaccination efforts, but that rates have remained low in some areas because of resistance from some groups that believe the inoculations are unsafe.

The Brooklyn outbreak has been traced to an unvaccinated child who became infected on a visit to Israel, which is also grappling with an outbreak, according to New York City's Department of Health.

NY has declared a public health emergency to deal with a measles outbreak that seems likely to become the country's worst in 20 years.

"To challenge the risky misinformation that is being spread by a group of anti-vaxxers, it's crucial that everyone around them be vaccinated to shield them from infection", Barbot said.

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The U.S. Supreme Court upheld such an order in a 1905 case involving smallpox vaccinations in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

What's more, the more children in the community have it, the higher risk of exposure for kids with weakened immune systems and pregnant women, who need to avoid the virus.

The order covers people who live in four ZIP codes of a Brooklyn neighborhood where more than 250 people have gotten measles since September.

So far, 21 people to be hospitalized with the measles, including five people who required intensive care, according to Barbot, who noted there have been no fatalities.

Measles is a highly-infectious viral illness spread by contact with respiratory secretions through coughing and sneezing.

The United States measles vaccination program began in 1963. Officials in New York City were no different in their blame.

One school that violated the mandate has been linked to more than 40 cases, the health department said.

"It's crucial for people to understand the measles vaccine works", de Blasio continued. It lays out numerous anti-vaccine arguments that have been debunked by scientific studies, such as a claim that measles, mumps and rubella vaccinations increase the risk of autism.

And if infected individuals travel to other areas that also have low vaccination rates, they could "seed" outbreaks in those areas, too.

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