New York City Declares Measles Emergency

Decision triggers wide range of reactions

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a public health emergency last week in the wake of a measles outbreak. As part of the declaration, de Blasio announced that $1,000 fines would be levied against individuals living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, who refuse to receive the measles vaccine.  

The city has fought for months to stop the measles outbreak taking place in some sections of the city, trying measures from education and outreach to more drastic means, such as a ban on unvaccinated children attending school. But with cases continuing to develop and number increasing, the unprecedented drastic step taken last week aims to encourage people in an area where education and outreach simply cannot.

“This is the epicenter of a measles outbreak that is very, very troubling and must be dealt with immediately,” the mayor said at a Brooklyn news conference. “The measles vaccine works. It is safe, it is effective, it is time-tested.”

Almost 300 cases of measles have been confirmed in New York City since last fall.

But this Monday saw five parents file a lawsuit against the City Department of Health, claiming officials overstepped their authority by making vaccinations mandatory in certain neighborhoods.

“The emergency orders grossly understate the risk of harm to children, adults and the general public from the MMR vaccine, while at the same time overstating the benefits,” the lawsuit claimed, calling on the New York Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order to stop the Health Department.

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