Rockland County, close to New York City, has declared a state of emergency regarding the measles outbreak, and have been forced to take desperate measures.
Unvaccinated young people under the age of 18 have been prohibited from entering public spaces as of today. This ban will last for 30 days or until the child receives a vaccination. However, there is a possibility the ban could be extended beyond this period.
There will not be active checks on young people in public places to see whether or not they are vaccinated. However, if parents are found to be in violation of this ban, they could be charged with a misdemeanor resulting in a six month jail sentence or a $500 fine.
Public places in this instance have been defined as ‘any place where people get together for civic or social reasons’, including shopping centers, churches, schools and restaurants. However, this ban does not encompass outdoor areas, such as playgrounds.
The Rockland Department of Health will hold free vaccination clinics throughout the week for those in the area which has been hit by 153 reported cases of measles since October. Those who are unable to be vaccinated on account of confirmed medical issues will reportedly be exempt from the declaration.
As reported by CNN, County Executive Ed Day announced the state of emergency at a press conference on March 26, stating:
This is a public health crisis, and it is time to sound the alarm, to ensure that everyone takes proper action to protect themselves and their neighbors; for the health and safety of all of us in Rockland.
As this outbreak has continued, our inspectors have begun to meet resistance from those they are trying to protect. They have been hung up on or told not to call again.
They’ve been told ‘we’re not discussing this; do not come back’ when visiting the homes of infected individuals as part of their investigations.
This type of response is unacceptable and irresponsible. It endangers the health and well-being of others and displays a shocking lack of responsibility and concern for others in our community.
Rockland County, New York State, declares state of emergency following severe measles outbreak -153 cases so far. Unvaccinated kids are now barred from public spaces with fines and <6 months in prison if ignored. The reason for the outbreak? Parents believing antivax lies… 😡
— Dr Christian Jessen (@DoctorChristian) March 27, 2019
Almost 50 of the county’s measles cases were reported in 2019. Children make up approximately 85 per cent of those being treated for measles.
The majority of those recently treated for the measles had not been given the MMR vaccine, which vaccinates against measles, mumps and rubella.
CNN reports almost 17,000 vaccinations have been administered in Rockland County since the outbreak.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.