With hundreds of cases of measles reported in the city over the past six months, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has declared a state of emergency focused on a specific community in Brooklyn.
According to the statement issued on Tuesday, those who refuse vaccinations will be subject to fines.
Reports indicate an Orthodox Jewish population in Williamsburg is behind many such decisions not to vaccinate.
“This is the epicenter of a measles outbreak that is very, very troubling and must be dealt with immediately,” the mayor said.
City officials backed his move and denounced “misinformation” being spread on the topic.
Only two cases of measles were reported in all of 2017. The city has confirmed 285 in the months since October.
One child who came back sick after a visit to Israel is believed to be responsible for the proliferation of the potentially fatal disease. At least 21 of those infected were admitted to the hospital. Five of them required a stay in the intensive care unit.
Only 39 of the confirmed cases were reported in adults. There have not been any deaths reported within this outbreak.
According to the New York City Department of Health, officials will be referencing vaccination histories of those believed to have been in contact with infected individuals. Those unable to prove they have had the appropriate vaccinations — or are immune from a previous illness — could be fined $1,000.
Deputy Mayor for Public Health Herminia Palacio also spoke out on the issue.
“There is a campaign with very intentional efforts to give misinformation,” she said.
Oxiris Barbot, the city’s health commissioner, said he understood that “parents may be afraid” of vaccinations.
“I know that getting vaccinated is far safer than getting measles,” he said.
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