Brooklyn Boro

Sunset Park measles cases reach double digits as citywide total rises to 535

May 28, 2019 Scott Enman
The number of confirmed cases of measles in New York City has risen to 566. AP Photo/Seth Wenig

The number of confirmed measles cases citywide has reached 535 — and the outbreak is showing no signs of slowing down. The epidemic, mostly contained to the Orthodox Jewish community in Williamsburg, has spread to Sunset Park with 12 people outside the orthodox community contracting the disease, up nine since May 8.

Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot said that due to Sunset Park’s high vaccination rates, she does not expect the infection to spread as rapidly as it has in other areas. Nevertheless she encouraged anyone without the vaccine to have it administered immediately — and for all New Yorkers to check their immunity status with a doctor.

“Williamsburg remains the epicenter of this outbreak, though we have seen some cases in people outside of the Orthodox Jewish community,” Barbot said. “Given the high vaccination rates in Sunset Park, we do not foresee sustained transmission in this neighborhood.

“However, measles is extremely contagious, and I strongly urge unvaccinated New Yorkers to immediately get the vaccine, unless there is a medical condition that prevents them from doing so.”

The Health Department has taken precautions to ramp up outreach in Sunset Park with robocalls and vaccination literature being distributed in English, Spanish and Chinese.

Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, who represents Sunset Park, said his office is partnering with NYU Langone’s Family Health Centers to offer vaccinations at St. Michael’s Church on Wednesday from 12 to 7 p.m.

“Given the measles outbreak across the City and here in Sunset Park, our office is working closely with the [Health Department] and taking careful steps to ensure that the community can protect itself,” Menchaca told the Brooklyn Eagle.

“As part of our larger effort to get information and resources out to residents, we invite residents to take advantage of this opportunity so they can protect their health and safety,” he added.

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There have been an additional 69 cases citywide since May 8 and 250 more since Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a public health emergency on April 9.

Seventy-eight percent of the cases have occurred in Williamsburg. As part of the emergency, the city ordered mandatory measles-mumps-rubella vaccinations for residents in who live in the 11205, 11206, 11211, 11249 ZIP codes.

Since Oct. 1, 2018, 25,000 doses of MMR have been administered in Williamsburg and Borough Park. The disease has hospitalized 40 people and sent 11 others to Intensive Care Units.

De Blasio said that individuals and parents who ignored the order would be fined up to $1,000 and questioned by “disease detectives.” At least 122 unvaccinated people have already received such summonses.

The city has also continued to crack down on schools. On May 8, Simche Kinder at 812 Myrtle Ave. was forced to shutter for failing to comply with the order, bringing the total number of closed institutions to at least eight.

The mandate has been met with some resistance. An anti-vaccination organization representing the parents of five unvaccinated children in Williamsburg filed a lawsuit against the city, but it was dismissed by a Brooklyn judge. A second attempt to fight the mandate was also denied by an appellate court.

Follow reporter Scott Enman on Twitter.

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