Monday December 16, 2019

New York Bans Children Not Vaccinated Against Measles from Public Places

Rockland County declared a state of emergency said the ban would remain in place for 30 days or until unvaccinated children get the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) shot

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FILE - A vial of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and an information sheet is seen at Boston Children's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, Feb. 26, 2015. VOA

A New York suburb has banned children not vaccinated against measles from public spaces, such as schools and shopping malls, as it fights the state’s worst outbreak in decades of the potentially deadly disease.

Rockland County declared a state of emergency on Tuesday and said the ban would remain in place for 30 days or until unvaccinated children get the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) shot.

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.

“We will not sit idly by while children in our community are at risk,” County Executive Ed Day said in a statement. “This is a public health crisis, and it is time to sound the alarm. “There have been 153 confirmed cases of measles in Rockland County, about 11 miles (18 km) north of Manhattan, mostly among children who have not been vaccinated.

The ban begins at midnight after which unvaccinated children will not be permitted in locations such as places of worship, schools and shopping malls. Outdoor spaces like playgrounds are excluded from the ban. People medically unable to get vaccinated are exempt.

measles, new york, unvaccinated
An Orthodox Jewish man walks through the parking lot of a supermarket, March 26, 2019, in Spring Valley, N.Y. VOA

The outbreak began when a traveler visited Israel and returned to a predominantly ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Rockland County. There have also been at least 181 confirmed cases of measles in the New York boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens since October, mostly among Orthodox Jews, according to the city’s health department.

The New York and Washington outbreaks began after U.S. travelers picked up measles in foreign countries, where the disease was running rampant, and brought it back to places where vaccination rates were too low by U.S. public health standards.

The disease has spread mostly among school-age children whose parents declined to get them vaccinated, citing reasons such as philosophical or religious beliefs, or concerns the MMR vaccine could cause autism, authorities said.

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Large scientific studies have demonstrated that there is no link between vaccines and autism.

Officials say the measles outbreaks offer a lesson about the importance of maintaining a minimum 95 percent “herd” level of immunization against dangerous, preventable diseases such as measles. Rates as low as 60 percent were found in parts of New York where measles spread, State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said in February. (VOA)

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Will Smith Feels “Emotional” about Homelessness in New York

'Emotional' Will Smith Campaigns Against Homelessness in New York

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Will Smith
Hollywood Actor Will Smith will be campaigning against homelessness in New York. Wikimedia Commons

Will Smith still feels “emotional” about homelessness years after playing a destitute man in one of his most acclaimed film roles, the Hollywood star has told charity campaigners braving a fierce New York winter night to sleep rough.

Hundreds of people had gathered in Times Square on Saturday, rugged up and ready to bunk down in freezing temperatures, in a campaign to raise funds for what organizers said was record homelessness globally.

Smith told the crowd that his Oscar-nominated role in “The Pursuit of Happyness” — a 2007 biopic of a salesman forced to live on the streets of San Francisco with his young son — was a “life-changing experience” that had allowed him to understand the misery of poverty.

Actor Will Smith
Will Smith arrives at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards in Los Angeles, March 23, 2019. VOA

“It makes me emotional thinking about it right now,” Smith said. “To not have a place to go and to be able to lay your head down with your children at night is a horrendous tragedy.”

Smith also charmed crowds with a “bedtime story” — a rap rendition of the theme tune to his 1990s hit sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”

People in over 50 cities around the world slept on the streets to support the World’s Big Sleep Out campaign, the charity said in a Saturday statement, adding that funds from the New York event would be donated to the UN Children’s Fund.

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“In New York City alone, more people are now homeless than at any time since the Great Depression,” the statement said.

“Over 62,000 people in New York, including 22,000 kids, will sleep in shelters tonight and the number of homeless people and refugees in cities around the world continues to hit record highs with each passing year.” (VOA)