NYC Measles Outbreak Declared Over
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NYC Measles Outbreak Declared Over

City lifts emergency order after new infections cease in epidemic affecting Orthodox areas in Williamsburg and Borough Park.

Amy Sara Clark writes about politics and education. A Columbia Journalism School graduate, she's worked at CBS News, The Journal News, The Jersey Journal, Mom365, JTA and Prospect Heights Patch. She comes to journalism from academia where she earned a master's degree in European History with a focus on Vichy France.

A one-dose bottle of the measles, mumps and rubella virus vaccine.  George Frey/Getty Images
A one-dose bottle of the measles, mumps and rubella virus vaccine. George Frey/Getty Images

The measles outbreak concentrated in Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in New York City is officially over, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

There have been no new infections over the last two incubation periods, signaling the end of the outbreak, city health officials said on Tuesday.

Health officials have rescinded the April 9 Emergency Order that had required people living or working in certain Williamsburg zip codes to be vaccinated or face paying a $1,000 fine. They also rescinded the nine-month requirement that unvaccinated children be excluded from school in parts of Williamsburg and Borough Park.

However, a state law passed in June ending non-medical exemptions for required vaccinations means that all children well enough to take the vaccine will still be required to do it in order to be allowed into any school, public or private.   

New York City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot called on New Yorkers to continue to get their children immunized.

“Measles is one of the most contagious diseases on the face of the earth,” Dr. Oxiris Barbot said in a written statement. “There may no longer be local transmission of measles in New York City, but the threat remains given other outbreaks in the U.S. and around the world. Our best defense against renewed transmission is having a well immunized city.”

Deputy Commissioner for the Health Department’s Division of Disease Control Dr. Demetre Daskalakis added in the release: “Staying up to date on vaccines is the best way for people to protect the health and safety of New Yorkers. It only takes one case to start an outbreak.” 

The outbreak began in October of 2018 and was mostly concentrated in Orthodox neighborhoods in Brooklyn. There were 654 cases reported up to Tuesday, which is the most in 30 years, according to the Health Department.

The Brooklyn outbreak has been tied to an unvaccinated child who contracted the disease during a trip to Israel.

“The Orthodox Jewish community takes health seriously. While its vaccination rates have always been high, international travel and a close-knit, family-centered structure left our community particularly vulnerable to the measles, a highly contagious disease,”  Avrohom Weinstock, chief of staff of the ultra-Orthodox umbrella organization Agudath Israel of America, said in the release. 

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