Tuesday April 23, 2019

NY County Declares Emergency Because of Measles Outbreak, Bans Unvaccinated People from Public Places

So far this year, more than 300 people have contracted measles in 15 states in the U.S

0
//
measles, new york
Signs advertising free measles vaccines and information about measles are displayed at the Rockland County Health Department in Pomona, N.Y., March 27, 2019. The county declared a local state of emergency over a measles outbreak that has infected 150 people since last fall. VOA

So far this year, more than 300 people have contracted measles in 15 states in the U.S. Almost half of those cases occurred in Rockland County, just north of New York City.

Because of the outbreak, which has lasted nearly six months, county officials have declared a state of emergency and are banning anyone who is unvaccinated from frequenting public places.

“Anyone who is under 18 years of age and is not vaccinated against the measles will be prohibited from public places until the declaration expires in 30 days or until they receive their first shot of MMR,” said Ed Day, county executive.

Public places include shopping malls, restaurants, buses and trains. Police will not be asking for vaccination records, but parents can face a fine of $500 and as much as six months in jail if they refuse to vaccinate their children.

‘Roll of the dice’

The county executive says it is a matter of getting parents to understand how dangerous measles is.

“Every new case is a roll of the dice,” Day said. “It could bring on pneumonia, encephalitis, the swelling of the brain, or cause premature birth, which can lead to complications and even death.” And, he said, it’s a matter of keeping those who can’t get vaccinated safe.

“What about the infants who are out there with mom and dad? My newborn grandson is an infant. What about those who are pregnant and those with compromised immune systems like cancer patients and survivors? These are the people we all need to step up for,” Day said.

Vaccine rates vary

Vaccine rates in the U.S. are still high. A CDC study found that 94 percent of children in the U.S. receive the first dose of vaccines that protect against measles, mumps, rubella and other vaccine preventable diseases.

measles, new york
A nurse holds a vial of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine at Boston Children’s Hospital in Boston, Feb. 26, 2015. VOA

But vaccines that require boosters, including the vaccine against measles, had lower rates of coverage.

Some states allow parents who oppose vaccinating their children for religious or philosophical reasons to opt out. Vaccination rates in these states have dropped steadily. And as they have dropped, cases of measles have increased.

ALSO READ: “It’s Important that we Tackle Climate Change with much Greater Ambition,” Says UN Chief

Vaccines proven safe

Some parents wrongly believe vaccines can cause autism in children. Study after study has shown that not to be true. Dr. Frank Esper, a pediatrician with the Cleveland Clinic, defends vaccinating children.

“These vaccines are well shown to be safe,” he said. “We have tested them. We have followed children who have received these vaccines. We know how safe they are.”

Still, some parents remain unconvinced. Rockland County is offering free measles vaccinations in an effort to end the outbreak. (VOA)

Next Story

Measles Could be Completely Wiped Off, Instead it’s Making a Comeback

In the first three months of this year, the World Health Organization reports that the number of measles cases has tripled over what it was last year

0
measles
Measles Could Be Eradicated. Instead, It's Making A Comeback. VOA

Measles is a disease that is only found in humans so it could be completely wiped off the face of the earth. But despite a highly effective and safe vaccine, it is making a comeback.

In the first three months of this year, the World Health Organization reports that the number of cases has tripled over what it was last year.

In Africa, the situation is worse. Africa saw a 700-percent increase compared to last year. Dr. Anthony Fauci heads the research on infectious diseases at the National Institutes of Health. He says in Madagascar, the case is dire.

“Madagascar has almost 1,000 deaths and has tens of thousands of infections,” Fauci said. The National Institutes of Health warns that a decline in vaccination which is causing a preventable global resurgence of this often deadly disease, including in the U.S.

“One in ten children who get infected with measles will get an ear infection that could cause deafness. One-and-twenty would get pneumonia. One in a thousand would get brain swelling, what we call encephalitis, and one to three per thousand would die. To say that it is a trivial disease is completely incorrect,” Fauci said.

Dr. Walter Orenstein at the Emory University Vaccine Center has spent his life working to end measles. He says the complications are worse in poor countries.

measles
Materials are seen left at demonstration by people opposed to childhood vaccination after officials in Rockland County, a New York City suburb, banned children not vaccinated against measles from public spaces. VOA

“You start off with children who are already at greater risk. They may be malnourished. They may have compromised immune systems. They may be underweight and may have no access to health care so measles is a big killer,” Orenstein said.

ALSO READ: New York City’s Mandatory Measles Vaccination Order Stands Still

You have a 90 percent chance of getting measles if you haven’t been vaccinated and you come in contact with someone who has it. Dr. Rebecca Martin, heads the CDC’s center for global health. She is working to rid Africa of measles.  “It is very infectious. It will find everybody who is not protected against measles,” Martin said.

The solution is to get two doses of the vaccine. That may mean educating parents about both the disease and the vaccine. Equally important is making vaccination a priority of health systems worldwide. (VOA)