NEW YORK (CBS NewYork) — New York City officials are cracking down on schools in Brooklyn that allow unvaccinated children to attend, telling them to comply or be shut down.
Neighborhood officials said the vast majority of Orthodox Jews in Williamsburg are vaccinated, but because the community is so tightly knit, just a small number of anti-vaxers is allowing this outbreak to grow, CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported Monday.
“There is no religious exemption on measles,” said Gary Schlesinger, CEO of Parcare Community Health Network. “All rabbis, all prominent rabbis have issued proclamations that everyone should vaccinate.”
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Schlesinger is trying to reverse false information being spread about the measles vaccine through the Orthodox community.
“They’re spreading this information through hotlines, some publications. I’ve seen some mailings,” Schlesinger said.
MEASLES HEALTH EMERGENCY RESOURCES
- NYC.gov Measles Information Page
- Where To Get Immunizations In New York City
- Citywide Immunization Registry (CIR)
- Signs And Symptoms
- CDC Measles Statistics
As a result, the health department now says any yeshiva school in Williamsburg allowing unvaccinated students to attend will face fines or possibly be shut down.
“If you ask me, I say do it. Immunize your child, save lives,” one resident said.
“It has nothing to do with Judaism. People are afraid. It’s damaging. People are afraid of the medicine,” another person said.
City Councilman Stephen Levin represents Williamsburg.
“Every child has to be registered and we can work with the schools to do this,” Levin said.
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In Rockland County, there have been 167 confirmed cases of measles. On Friday, a Supreme Court judge blocked an executive order banning unvaccinated children from public places.
“It’s happening around New York state. It’s only going to spread unless we fix the problems in the system, and the problems are we have way too lax of a requirement,” state Sen. David Carlucci said.
New York City ordered yeshivas to ban unvaccinated students in December, but said one in Williamsburg did not comply and has since been linked to more than 40 cases.
“Oversight from one of the administrators who thought the breakout had stopped,” Schlesinger said. “But by now, I’ve spoken to many administrators. Most of them … all of them are very strict about the orders.”
So will this plan be more effective?
“I’m going to be focusing on this and putting out a bigger plan,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “But right now we’re going to have inspectors out. We have clear penalties, clear sanctions.”
Neighborhood officials said it is particularly important for members of this community to get vaccinated now because next week families will be gathering for the start of Passover.
‘Monkey, Rat and Pig DNA’: How Misinformation Is Driving the Measles Outbreak Among Ultra-Orthodox Jews
|A handbook created by Parents Educating and Advocating for Children’s Health. “It is our belief that there is no greater threat to public health than vaccines,” the handbook states.|
Handbooks distributed in some Jewish communities in New York, as well as messages on hotlines, contradict the scientific consensus that vaccines are safe and highly effective.
“The Vaccine Safety Handbook” appears innocuous, a slick magazine for parents who want to raise healthy children. But tucked inside its 40 pages are false warnings that vaccines cause autism and contain cells from aborted human fetuses.
“It is our belief that there is no greater threat to public health than vaccines,” the publication concludes, contradicting the scientific consensus that vaccines are generally safe and highly effective.
The handbook, created by a group called Parents Educating and Advocating for Children’s Health, or Peach, is targeted at ultra-Orthodox Jews, whose expanding and insular communities are at the epicenter of one of the largest measles outbreaks in the United States in decades.