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Unvaccinated Student Causes Measles Outbreak in Brooklyn

He was in school despite an emergency order from the health department banning unvaccinated students from attending.

One unvaccinated student infected 21 classmates at a religious school in Brooklyn, the latest development in an outbreak that started last fall.

Per The New York Times, the outbreak happened at Yeshiva Kehilath Yakov, a co-ed school that serves the ultra-Orthodox population in the Williamsburg neighborhood, late in January. It’s the latest development in a public health emergency that began last fall.

“What we have to work against is the proliferation of inaccurate information on the internet,” Dr. Oxiris Barbot, the city’s health commissioner, told the Times. “So, lots of our time is spent on providing education to dispel any myths and make it easy for people to get vaccinated.”

Over 7,000 people in the affected neighborhoods have been vaccinated, but those efforts have not been enough to halt the months-old outbreak.

Six new cases of measles in the Orthodox community in Williamsburg were reported in October. All stemmed from a child who was exposed to an outbreak in Israel and brought it back to Brooklyn.

The health department held public meetings, distributed posters to health care providers, and placed ads in local media, but the crisis worsened.

In December, the health department ratcheted up the pressure by sending a letter to principals of yeshivas in nine different zip codes stipulating that unvaccinated students would not be allowed to attend school regardless of an approved religious or medical exemption.

Yeshiva Kehilath Yakov failed to comply with the directive, and 21 of its students are now infected with a dangerous preventable disease.

As of February 28, the Orthodox Jewish community in New York City has had 121 cases of measles, according to the health department. Thankfully, no deaths have been reported.