New York’s measles outbreak is only getting worse in unvaccinated communities and the city is now appealing to residents to get their children vaccinated urgently under penalty of fines.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, during a press conference in Williamsburg, said: “This is the epicentre of a measles outbreak that is very, very troubling and must be dealt with immediately.”
The city has declared a public health emergency on Tuesday after almost 300 cases of measles were reported and announced fines of up to $1,000 (R14,300) if people disobeyed the mandatory vaccination order.
“The problem is, there’s nothing more difficult to contain than a measles epidemic,” Peter Hotez, professor of paediatrics and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Texas’s Baylor College of Medicine, told BuzzFeed News. “The measles virus is the most highly transmissible virus we know about.”
Measles has made a comeback in New York, mainly in Orthodox Jewish communities, as some parents refuse to get their children vaccinated, citing scientifically debunked concerns that the shots are dangerous.
The outbreak began with an unvaccinated child who got measles while travelling to Israel, which is also battling a large outbreak. After experiencing only two cases in 2017 the city has now had 285 since the beginning of the year with cases doubling monthly. Twenty-one people have been hospitalised, with five sent to intensive care and parents are now holding Measels parties to try and get their children infected without the use of a vaccination.
Deputy mayor Herminia Palacio said: “Exposing your unvaccinated child to measles is very dangerous and can even be deadly.”
Community leaders and Rabbis are urging parents to not put their children in harms way, but to rather vaccinate, stating there was no religious reason why people could not receive a vaccination. Despite this, officials say there are many die-hards who continue to refuse despite the exorbitant fines.
“This is my personal religious belief,” said one anti-vaxxer mom who spoke to The Guardian. “God has created a perfect design. My kids were born beautiful, healthy, and perfect and I want to keep them that way.”