Rockland County, New York declared a state of emergency today to stop the spread of measles. For six months, the county has been unable to contain the outbreak due to the resistance of citizens and low vaccination rates. Rockland County Executive Edward Day delivered the message that all unvaccinated children will be barred from public places.
In a press conference this morning, Day outlined the details of the outbreak. Since October 2018, Rockland County has confirmed 153 cases of the measles. The outbreak started after seven unvaccinated travelers entered the county and exposed the general public to the measles.
For 26 weeks, the Rockland Department of Health has worked to stop the outbreak by hosting free vaccination clinics and documenting all confirmed cases. Unfortunately, resistance from many infected families to staying out of the general public has prevented the outbreak from stopping.
Additionally, Day said that the current vaccination rate of children is only 72.9%. The vaccination rate includes nearly 17,000 vaccinations given out at clinics since the outbreak began. Sadly, 83% of all the cases of measles have been in children under 18.
Day said that many infected individuals have been completely uncooperative with county officials. Unable to collect data, provide vaccinations, and prevent the spread of the virus, the county decided to issue the state of emergency.
As a part of the declaration, the county will bar any unvaccinated people from public places. until they receive one round of the MMR vaccine. The county will hold free vaccination clinics in multiple locations over the course of several weeks.
Individuals will not be allowed to claim religious exemptions if they want to go into the public. According to Day, the county will only allow exemptions for individuals with verified medical conditions that require a medical exemption.
The county is working with local rabbis to spread the word about the vaccination clinics and to help with education on the vaccines.
According to Day, the current outbreak is the longest in the country since the measles eradication in the year 2000. The outbreak remained mostly within the Orthodox Jewish communities, but people outside of these communities have become exposed.Day impressed on everyone that babies, immunocompromised, and pregnant women are most at risk for developing severe complications. With many of these people unable to be vaccinated, the broader population needs to get up to date on their shots.
Serious complications of the measles may include pneumonia, swelling of the brain, blindness, and death. Individuals that contract the virus also develop a weakened immune system for three years following their illness.
Watch the full press conference via PIX News New York:
*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.
She co-hosts the YouTube show, “The Smoking Nun,” with Kyle Curtis. The show airs weekly and tackles pseudoscience, current events, and crime stories.
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