NYC declares health emergency over measles outbreak

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Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the unusual order amid what he said was a measles "crisis" in Brooklyn's Williamsburg section, where more than 250 people, mostly members of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish religious community, have gotten measles since September.

New York City on Tuesday, April 9, declared a public health emergency and ordered mandatory measles vaccinations amid an outbreak, becoming the latest national flashpoint over refusals to inoculate against unsafe diseases.

Most of the NY cases involved unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated individuals, according to de Blasio's office.

"However, we worked very hard, as the health department told us, and those children were excluded", he said.

"We have to stop it now", De Blasio said on Tuesday in Brooklyn.

"Measles is a unsafe, potentially deadly disease that can easily be prevented with vaccine", said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Herminia Palacio.

"If people ignore our order, we will issue fines".

City Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot added, "As a pediatrician, I know the MMR vaccine is safe and effective". All but 39 of the confirmed cases are in children.

The infection can cause serious illness and complication in infants, pregnant women, and those compromised immune systems, she continued.

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The disease spreads easily and can be fatal. While there have been no deaths, 21 people have been hospitalized and five have gone into ICU.

News of the order got a mixed reaction in Williamsburg, with some residents - even those who support vaccination - saying they felt uncomfortable with the city pushing vaccines on people who don't want them. Measles is highly contagious from four days before to four days after symptoms appear. "I urge everyone to get vaccinated".

"Look it's a serious public health concern, but it's also a serious First Amendment issue and it is going to be a constitutional, legal question", Cuomo said.

Last year, there were 372 cases nationwide.

The study was a follow-up of an earlier large study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2002 that also involved Danish children and also concluded that there "was no association between the age at the time of vaccination, the time since vaccination, or the date of vaccination and the development of autistic disorder".

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

"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.

"Since then, there have been additional people from Brooklyn and Queens who were unvaccinated and acquired measles while in Israel", according to the city's health department.

The CDC has said that in the decade before 1963 when a vaccine became available, almost all children got measles by the time they were 15 years of age and that an estimated 3 to 4 million people in the United States were infected each year.