Officials in Rockland County declared a countywide state of emergency Tuesday, announcing that the ban will begin at midnight and remain in place for 30 days or until unvaccinated minors receive the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Day said only 72.9 percent of people under 18 have been vaccinated against measles in Rockland County, which has more than 300,000 residents.
Rockland County is experiencing the largest outbreak of measles in the United States since 2000, which was when measles was officially declared eradicated by CDC.
There have been 181 confirmed cases of measles in Brooklyn and Queens since October, a lot of them involving members of the Orthodox Jewish community, according to the CDC.
"Parents will be held accountable if they're found to be in violation of the state of emergency and the focus of this effort is on the parents of these children", Day said. The Health Department is working to limit exposures and offering free vaccine to boost the county's immunization rate.
The New York and Washington outbreaks began after USA travelers picked up measles in foreign countries, where the disease was running rampant, and brought it back to places where vaccination rates were too low by us public health standards.
The judge in the case denied their request to issue a temporary injunction that would let the children return to school.
Officials say the measles outbreaks offer a lesson about the importance of maintaining a minimum 95 percent "herd" level of immunization against unsafe, preventable diseases such as measles. They have been hung up on or told not to call again. "That is ridiculous", Day said.
"We want people to be able to celebrate", he said.
Vaccines are required for school children, but nearly all states allow exemptions for families who say it's against their religious beliefs, and 17 states allow a parent to opt out for philosophical or personal reasons. We don't want to fine people. So far in 2019, 314 cases of measles have been confirmed in 15 states.
Measles is a highly contagious virus and can have serious consequences - pneumonia, brain damage, hearing loss and even death, according to the CDC. In 2014, 667 cases were confirmed nationwide and there were 372 cases in 2018.