84 People Given Summonses for Non-Compliance With Williamsburg Measles Vaccination Order

BROOKYN -
A sign warning people of measles in Williamsburg, last month. (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)

Twenty-seven more people have been given summonses for non-compliance with the mandatory Williamsburg vaccination order, the New York City Health Department announced Tuesday, as the number of measles cases in Brooklyn continues to soar.

A total of 84 people have now been given summonses for non-compliance with the vaccination order issued last month, which requires that anyone who lives, works or goes to school in the Williamsburg zip codes 11205, 11206, 11211 or 11249 receive the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, show bloodwork proving immunity, or receive a $1,000 fine.

A total of 466 measles cases have now been confirmed in New York City since the measles outbreak began in October, representing 43 new cases since last Monday. Thirty-four patients have been hospitalized and nine admitted to the ICU; 379 of the cases are in Williamsburg, with most of the others in Boro Park. The vast majority of the cases are Orthodox Jews; almost all the others had spent time in neighborhoods affected by the outbreak.

On Tuesday, the Health Department identified three cases in residents of Sunset Park who are not Orthodox Jews, but who spent time in areas affected by the outbreak. Two of these cases were students who attend public school and had a religious exemption allowing them to attend school unvaccinated. These students did not attend school while infectious.

“We are confident there is no increased risk of exposure at New York City public schools both because the recently diagnosed children from Sunset Park were not in school while infectious and because of the high vaccination rates of students in these and all NYC public schools,” said Deputy Health Commissioner Dr. Demetre Daskalakis.

Since December, the Health Department has banned unvaccinated children from attending yeshivos in Williamsburg and Boro Park. These yeshivos are also required to maintain immunization and attendance records and provide them to Health Department inspectors upon request. Seven Williamsburg yeshivos or playgroups have been closed for either allowing unvaccinated students to attend or failing to maintain records. All have since been allowed to reopen.

The Health Department has engaged in an advertising campaign targeted at the Orthodox Jewish community in English and Yiddish, encouraging vaccination. It has also conducted six rounds of robocalls to 30,000 households each. The Department said it will conduct a new round of robocalls starting Tuesday night, and will start a new ad campaign next Monday, on bus shelters, LinkNYC kiosks, in newspapers and online publications.

“Right now, we still see a highly localized outbreak in the Williamsburg community, even though there have been sporadic infections outside of the neighborhood,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “One reason we have not seen secondary infections outside this community is because so many people are vaccinated, underscoring the importance of vaccination.”