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Unvaccinated children banned from public places in New York suburb following measles outbreak

The extreme measure is to last for 30 days.

File photo.
File photo.
Image: Shutterstock/ravipat

A NEW YORK suburb declared a state of emergency yesterday following an outbreak of measles cases. 

Officials in Rockland County – with a population of 300,000 people and roughly 40km north of New York City – have banned unvaccinated children from entering public places “with a congregation of more than 10 people” as well as banning them from using public transport. 

The extreme measure is set to last for 30 days and will come into effect from midnight tonight in a bid to curb the spread of the disease which is said to be most present within Orthodox Jewish communities. 

Another outbreak took hold of the Brooklyn and Queens suburbs of New York City over the past six months, with many cases also stemming from Orthodox Jewish Communities. 

The group, along with other minorities impacted such as the Amish community, do not necessarily have religious objections to vaccinations but local media in the region is reporting that they can be more vulnerable to ‘anti-vaxx’ movements. 

A Washington Post article reported a slower uptake in vaccinations by religious minorities. Daniel Salmon, a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and director of the Institute for Vaccine Safety, told the newspaper that many people believe the Amish are “the classic group that doesn’t want to vaccinate”. He added, “Most people who have concerns aren’t ideologically opposed to vaccines. They just don’t trust the science, they’ve been misinformed, or they hold different values.”

However, founder of Liberty Counsel – a group advocating for religious freedom issues – said that many of his clients wishes to not vaccinate were “consistent with their faith”.

Anyone found to be non-compliant with the ban will face a $500 fine or up to six months in jail, authorities have said.  

“We must do everything in our power to end this outbreak and protect the health of those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons and that of children too young to be vaccinated,” said county executive Ed Daly. 

The latest concerns come as 98 countries across the world have reported spikes in the number of people who have contracted the viral illness, according to a recent Unicef report.

In Ireland alone there has been a 208% increase in the number of cases recorded in 2018 against cases recorded in 2017, prompting director of Unicef Ireland, Peter Power, to brand it a “wake-up call” for people. 

“These cases haven’t happened overnight. Just as the serious outbreaks we are seeing today took hold in 2018, lack of action today will have disastrous consequences for children tomorrow,” Power said. 

He said “misinformation, mistrust and complacency” were the reasons behind parents not vaccinating their children and added, “almost all of these cases are preventable, and yet children are getting infected even in places where there is simply no excuse”.

The countries with the highest recorded increase were Ukraine with 30,338 cases, the Philippines with 13,192 cases and Brazil with 10,262 cases – all due mainly to internal conflicts and vaccine shortages. 

Measles are most commonly diagnosed among children between the ages of one and four but can affect all ages, and those with other illnesses and pregnant women are at particular risk. 

There were 74 reported cases Ireland in 2018, up from 25 reported cases in 2017.

To date in 2019, there have been 28 reported cases – 15 of which have been confirmed and the rest are probable or possible.

A recent episode of the TheJournal.ie’s The Explainer podcast examined why there has been such a huge increase globally in a disease that was once thought to be on its way to being eradicated.


Source: The Explainer/SoundCloud

MEASLES: How to recognise the symptoms?

  • High fever
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Red eyes
  • Red rash that starts on the head and spreads down the body – this normally starts a few days after onset of illness; the rash consists of flat red or brown blotches, which can flow into each other; it lasts about four to seven days
  • Vomiting, diarrhoea and tummy pain may also happen

Measles can cause chest infections, fits (seizures), ear infections, swelling of the brain and/or damage to the brain.

The Department of Health gives the following advice in relation to the MMR vaccine:

  • All children should get the MMR vaccine when they are aged 12 months; if any child aged over 12 months has missed this vaccine they should get it now from their GP
  • All children should get a second dose of MMR vaccine when they are four to five years old or in junior infants at school; if any child in senior infants or older has missed this vaccine they should get it now from their GP
  • Adults under 40 years who have not had measles or have not received two doses of MMR vaccine should contact their GP to get the MMR vaccine
  • Adults over 40 years of age may sometimes be at risk and if such adults never had measles nor a measles-containing vaccine they should consider getting the MMR vaccine from their GP

What advice does the HSE give to people who think they might have measles?

  • Do not go to work, school or crèche
  • Stay at home and phone your GP; tell the doctor or nurse that you think you might have measles
  • Stop visitors coming to your home
  • Pregnant women who have been exposed to measles should seek medical advice as soon as possible

 With reporting by AFP  - © – AFP, 2019 

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