As the measles outbreak in New York City continues to worsen, Mayor Bill de Blasio has declared a public health emergency in certain sections of Williamsburg’s Brooklyn neighborhood, particularly those with a high Orthodox Jewish population.
On Tuesday, the mayor announced that any unvaccinated people who live in a select group of zip codes (11205, 11206, 11221, and 11237) will be required to get the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccination.
Any parents who are unable to prove that their children are vaccinated could be subject to fines of up to $1,000.
“There’s no question that vaccines are safe, effective and life-saving,” Mayor De Blasio explained in a statement to ABC7. “I urge everyone, especially those in affected areas, to get their MMR vaccines to protect their children, families, and communities.”
Since last October, there have been 285 confirmed cases of measles in the Orthodox Jewish community, where vaccination rates are often lower. And while there have yet to be any deaths, a few affected people have required hospitalization.
“We have a very dangerous situation on our hands,” De Blasio said to NBC New York in a press conference. “We cannot allow this dangerous disease to make a comeback here in New York City. We have to stop it now.”
The mayor’s mandate comes just a week after a judge in Rockland County, N.Y. banned all unvaccinated children from public places until they received the vaccine.
Councilman Stephen Levin blames the New York outbreaks on the anti-vaxx movement and the spread of misinformation. He told ABC7, “We need to make sure that there’s good information that’s out there, that’s culturally sensitive, that is getting to the right people, to make sure that it’s real scientific information so people know this is not a risk.”