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Unvaccinated Students in New York Banned From School Amid Measles Outbreak

There have been 39 cases reported so far.

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The New York City Department of Health just announced that unvaccinated students in certain Orthodox Jewish communities will not be allowed to attend school due to the recent measles outbreak. In Brooklyn’s Williamsburg and Borough Park, students must receive the required number of doses of measles-mumps-rubella vaccine before returning to school.

According to a letter sent to parents on Thursday, “Effective Friday, December 7, every student attending a yeshiva in the below zip codes in Borough Park and Williamsburg who is not vaccinated with the required number of doses of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine will not be permitted to attend school, regardless of whether a case of measles has occurred in the school.”

The letter adds that the ban also applies to religious and medical exemptions and that “students who are sick with measles must stay home from daycare or school until the 5th day after rash onset, as advised by the Health Department.”

Since October, 39 cases of measles (three of which were adults) have been reported in New York’s Orthodox Jewish community, with the median age of those infected being two years old. The highly contagious illness is thought to have been spread by an unvaccinated child who contracted it during a recent trip to Israel.

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The ban, which will be enforced by yeshiva principals and directors, affects the following NYC zip codes: 11204, 11205, 11206, 11211, 11218, 11219, 11220, 11230, 11249. Based on data from the Department of Health, only 2 percent of the students in these areas are currently unvaccinated with the majority having received the measles vaccine.

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And New York isn’t the first to take a stand on vaccinations—back in 2016, California passed a law mandating vaccines in schools, becoming the third state to do so along with Mississippi and West Virginia. However, the New York ban will only last until the outbreak is declared over, officials say.