April 09, 2019
2 min read

NYC pushes measles vaccination with state of emergency

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Photo of Brian Dean Abramson
Brian Dean Abramson

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency today because of an ongoing measles outbreak. Residents of Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood aged 6 months and older will be required to be immunized against the virus, according to reports from Fox 5 New York.

The mandatory immunization extends to anyone who lives, works or goes to school within the zip codes assigned to the neighborhood. Ignoring the order could result in a fine of up to $1,000.

“If people will simply cooperate quickly, nobody will have to pay a fine,” de Blasio said.

This order will remain in effect until April 17.

Rockland County, New York, also recently declared a state of emergency because of a measles outbreak, warning that it would ban unvaccinated minors from entering public places, including schools. However, the state of emergency was temporarily stopped by a New York Supreme Court judge.

CNN reported that Judge Rolf Thorsen, who suggested that the order may have been “misplaced,” scheduled a hearing on the ban for April 19.

Image of vaccine 
Source: Shutterstock

Brian Dean Abramson, Esq., LL.M., vaccine law expert and author of Vaccine, Vaccination and Immunization Law, told Infectious Diseases in Children in a previous interview that it is “well within the police power of the state to regulate public gatherings during a time of an outbreak.” Abramson added that similar measures have been taken in the past during outbreaks of smallpox and Spanish influenza.

Since the ban was announced, 700 people were vaccinated against measles in the county.

The Rockland County Department of Health reported that 167 cases have been confirmed since April 5, and 82% of infections occurred in people who have not had any doses of MMR vaccine. Nearly all cases have occurred in children aged 18 years and younger. – by Katherine Bortz


Fox 5 New York - NYC declares health emergency over measles outbreak. http://www.fox5ny.com/news/nyc-declares-health-emergency-over-measles-outbreak. Accessed April 9, 2019.

New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene - Order of the commissioner. https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/doh/downloads/pdf/press/2019/emergency-orders-measles. Accessed April 9, 2019.

Rockland County - Measles Information. http://rocklandgov.com/departments/health/measles-information. Accessed April 9, 2019.

Supreme Court: State of New York, County of Rockland - Index no. 031783/2019. https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/5798300-Judge-Thorsen-s-Ruling.html. Accessed April 9, 2019.

WCBS News Radio 880 - Judge knocks down Rockland County’s emergency measles declaration. https://wcbs880.radio.com/articles/judge-knocks-down-rockland-county-s-emergency-measles-declaration. Accessed April 9, 2019.

Disclosure: Abramson reports no relevant financial disclosures.