Williamsburg Residents Divided on Vaccines, Despite Mayor's Health Emergency Declaration

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New York City's emergency action, which Mayor Bill de Blasio acknowledged was "unusual" and driven by "the sheer extent of the crisis", has seen health officials intensify their fight in the Williamsburg and Borough Park neighborhoods, which have reported more than 285 measles cases since October, compared to two in all of 2017.

Lawyer Michael Sussman said Wednesday that the city overreached its authority by threatening to fine residents of four Brooklyn ZIP codes if they refuse to have their children vaccinated.

The city's health commissioner, Oxiris Barbot, said New York's outbreak "is being fueled by a small group of anti-vaxxers in these neighborhoods". A state judge sided with the parents and issued a preliminary injunction against the emergency order last week.

The city can't legally physically force someone to get a vaccination, but officials said people who ignore the order could be fined $1,000.

Following the ban, parents of unvaccinated children filed two cases in New York State Supreme Court to repeal the ban.

"This is the epicenter of a measles outbreak that is very, very troubling and must be dealt with immediately", de Blasio said at a news conference on Tuesday in Williamsburg.

Dozens of free vaccination clinics have been organized around the county - including one Friday in the town of Haverstraw - with 17,654 doses of vaccine administered to date.

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The outbreak is centered in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities where vaccination rates are far below normal, due to some parents' objections. But they said they were taking additional steps to control the outbreak in advance of Passover, when some families may travel overseas to areas in Israel or Europe that are experiencing measles outbreaks.

Meanwhile, the Orange County Health Department said a New York City resident with confirmed measles visited Woodbury Common on March 31. The disease is transmitted when people who have not been vaccinated come into contact with others, so areas around worldwide airports or proximity to communities who shun vaccines are of particular concern. Those who are too young to receive certain vaccines, have allergies to components of vaccines, or are undergoing medical treatment depend on this herd immunity, as they are unable to be vaccinated themselves. When anti-vaccination resistance raises the danger level this high, authorities must take all necessary steps to safeguard public health. The first cases in Westchester occurred in other secluded Hasidic Jewish enclaves, Nitra and nearby Kasho, CBS New York reports.

"Vaccines are safe and effective - and they work."

"There is an element of anti-vaccine supporters and sympathizers who do not want to get shots". Six of the infected children are siblings. "I think it will help in getting the community covered", he said.

Despite people's religious or philosophical objections to vaccinations, Latimer said, the science is clear.

Now, Hortez told The Washington Post last week, of the 15 counties with the most nonmedical vaccine exemptions, half are reporting measles cases.

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