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A Great Big City

City Declares Health Emergency in Williamsburg over Spread of Measles

Williamsburg Bridge
Williamsburg Bridge via pburka on Flickr

In an announcement Tuesday, the Commissioner of NYC Health declared a public health emergency in a select number of Brooklyn zip codes aimed at stopping the spread of measles.

Calling the spread of measles among unvaccinated individuals in Williamsburg a threat to public health in the city, the Health Commissioner has ordered that the city will ensure all children and adults who live, work, or reside within ZIP codes 11205, 11206, 11221, and 11249 have received the MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine. Failure to show proof of immunization or failure to attain a vaccination could result in receiving a violation and a potential fine of up to $1,000.

All New Yorkers can call 311 to find facilities that provide MMR vaccinations for low or no cost, and you can read more about measles on the health department's measles site.

Of the 280 documented cases of measles in the city, the vast majority (246 cases) were found in children under the age of 18, and the health emergency is intended to protect children from this dangerous disease that can easily spread among unvaccinated populations.

The Health Commissioner was quite plain in admonishing those who were permitting the spread of this disease:

"As a pediatrician, I know the MMR vaccine is safe and effective. This outbreak is being fueled by a small group of anti-vaxxers in these neighborhoods. They have been spreading dangerous misinformation based on fake science," said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. "We stand with the majority of people in this community who have worked hard to protect their children and those at risk. We’ve seen a large increase in the number of people vaccinated in these neighborhoods, but as Passover approaches, we need to do all we can to ensure more people get the vaccine."

Read the full Department of Health declaration

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