Measles outbreak: Court denies anti-vaxxer’s second attempt to fight vaccine mandate
An appellate court upheld the city’s measles vaccination mandate on Monday, denying a request for a temporary restraining order by a group of anti-vaxxer parents as the number of confirmed cases in New York City rose to 423.
“As New York City does everything it can to end the measles outbreak, I am thankful that the Appellate Division has denied a request for a temporary restraining order,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Herminia Palacio.
“Vaccination is the only way to end this outbreak. We are confident our emergency order was based on solid public health and legal ground, and we will continue to enforce our mandatory vaccination order. Measles represents a serious public health risk and deserves an appropriate response.”
The court’s decision came on the same day that officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the number of cases across the entire country had hit a 25-year high of more than 700.
Brooklyn is the epicenter of the outbreak, which is disproportionately affecting the Orthodox Jewish population.
On April 9, Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a public health emergency, ordering mandatory measles-mumps-rubella vaccinations for residents in parts of Williamsburg.
Eighty-two percent of New York City’s infections are in the Williamsburg zip codes of 11205, 11206, 11211 and 11249.
The appeal stems from a Brooklyn judge’s dismissal of the initial lawsuit filed on April 19 by the parents, who are represented by Robert Krakow, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Patricia Finn of Children’s Health Defense.
“I’m not surprised that the immediate relief was denied because of the media crush about this supposed measles epidemic, which has created a frenzy about this issue,” Krakow told the Brooklyn Eagle. “I think everyone feels that we’re on the precipice of a disaster. We see it as a serious situation, but not quite that.
“What we’re saying is that the board of health’s response, including the criminal penalties that they’ve now removed, and the shall-be vaccinated part of it overriding religious exemptions is unnecessary and undermines constitutional rights of my clients.”
The defendants are still waiting to have their preliminary injunction considered, and even if that is denied, Krakow said they would also appeal that.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said individuals and parents who ignored the mandate would be fined up to $1,000 and questioned by “disease detectives.” Fifty-seven unvaccinated individuals have already received such fines.
The Health Department also announced on Sunday that the city had closed an additional two schools — Tiferes Bnos at 585 Marcy Ave. and Talmud Torah D’Nitra at 1007 Bedford Ave. — for failing to comply with the mandate, bringing the total number of closed institutions to seven.
Follow reporter Scott Enman on Twitter.
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