Rockland County has declared a state of emergency after 153 people have become infected with measles, the latest outbreak in the state of New York since last October. The declaration came into effect at midnight local time on Wednesday, March 27, and bars anyone under the age of 18 who has not been unvaccinated from public places.
"Every action we have taken since the beginning of this outbreak has been designed to maximize vaccinations and minimize exposures. We are taking the next step in that endeavor today," County Executive Ed Day said in a statement. "This is an opportunity for everyone in our community to do the right thing for their neighbors and come together. 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."
Public spaces are defined as places where more than 10 people congregate. It could be a civic or governmental place, shopping mall, restaurants, religious buildings, daycares, and school. Public transport is included in this but not taxies or delivery vehicles.
To tackle the emergency, the county’s department of health will host a free MMR vaccination clinic in Pomona. Law enforcement will not be patrolling or asking for vaccination records, but if parents are discovered to have violated the ban, they will be reported to the district attorney. Violations will be charged as misdemeanors and will be punishable by up to six months in jail and a $500 fine.
"We must not allow this outbreak to continue indefinitely. We will not sit idly by while children in our community are at risk. 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," concluded Day.
Measles is an easily preventable condition thanks to perfectly safe vaccines. Unfortunately, unscrupulous people who stand to gain from vaccine skepticism are goading parents into putting their children and many others at risk.
According to the World Health Organization, vaccine hesitancy is one of the top 10 threats humanity faces today. Europe had three times more cases of measles in 2018 compared to 2017. Roughly 1.5 million deaths every year could be avoided if global vaccination coverage reached the 95 percent threshold.