NY county declares measles outbreak emergency

New York county takes ‘extremely unusual’ step to ban unvaccinated minors from public places amid measles outbreak

Located just north of New York City, Rockland County is an affluent area with a total population of about 312,000 people.

The outbreak is more widespread in the Orthodox Jewish community, which has a lower rate of vaccination, Day said. During the outbreak, more than 17,000 vaccinations have been given in the county, according to CNN.

The Rockland announcement follows measles outbreaks in California, Illinois, Texas and Washington and is part of a global resurgence of the viral infection, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Day also told FOX Business that vaccination rates in Rockland County are now at 72.9 percent, "woefully short of the 95 percent that provides us with herd immunity". Among the measures: a 30-day ban on any unvaccinated individuals under the age of 18 from being in public places.

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Vaccinations are in theory required to go to school in the United States, but 47 of the 50 states - including NY - allow exemptions, notably for religious reasons.

Making the announcement Tuesday, Rockland County Executive Ed Day also declared a state of emergency for the region, which has reported 150 cases of measles since October of a year ago.

"We will not sit idly by while children in our community are at risk", Rockland County Executive Ed Day said. "We want to encourage people to get vaccinated", he said. "We are urging them once again with the authority of law, get your children vaccinated", said Day. Health officials say the best way to stop the disease's spread is a vaccination rate in the community of 92 to 95 percent.

The emergency declaration bans unvaccinated minors from public gathering places, including restaurants, civic centers, houses of worship, shopping malls, and schools. But the parents of several students have sued over the decision, arguing that they have the right to opt out of vaccinating their children for religious purposes. A parent could be charged with a misdemeanor and up to six months in jail and/or $500.

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"This type of response is unacceptable and frankly irresponsible", he said.

Loreen Costa told the Rockland Journal News she brought her son to his pediatrician for a vaccination Wednesday after getting a robocall from his school explaining the ban.

Measles is a highly infectious disease and can cause serious health complications, including damage to the lungs and brain. "It endangers the health and wellbeing of others and displays a shocking lack of responsibility and concern for others in our community".

Day said the timing of this ban was meant to coincide with family gatherings during the upcoming holidays of Passover and Easter.

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