New York City threatens to close yeshivas over unvaccinated children

Maricruz Casares
Abril 15, 2019

Health officials Tuesday ordered almost everyone in a heavily Orthodox Jewish New York City neighborhood to be vaccinated for measles or face fines, reviving a public-health strategy that experts say hasn't been used in the recent memory.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has linked the measles outbreaks in New York, Rockland County and New Jersey to people bringing the disease back from Israel, where a large outbreak is occurring. Outside of the Williamsburgh Library where the conference took place, Jewish people explained their concerns about the vaccine, saying that the order infringes on their religious rights.

At Yeshiva Kehilath Yakov school, Rabbi David Oberlander said administrators had taken pains to make sure children with measles weren't in school.

As part of the emergency order, all residents of four Williamsburg zip codes - 11205, 11206, 11211 and 11249 - must be vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella if they are not already.

Another Jewish religious community, north of the city but with close ties to Brooklyn, has also seen a surge, with at least 166 cases since October. He had a word of warning as well, aimed at the neighborhood's private schools: "Schools that do not actively participate in helping us address this issue and do not exclude unvaccinated children, if they persist in allowing this danger to continue, we have the option of closing them for a period of time, until this crisis has passed". Without elaborating on the means, de Blasio promised help would be available for those who needed it.

Leading into the Passover holiday, when many will gather at temples and homes for services and seders, the health department is calling on New Yorkers, particularly people in the Orthodox Jewish community, to get the MMR vaccine.

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

Barbot said that the majority of religious leaders in the large Orthodox communities support vaccination efforts, but that rates have remained low in some areas because of a resistance "fueled by a small group of anti-vaxxers in these neighborhoods". "This is very pinpointed, very localized, and I think very appropriate".

Esther is a mother of three who has chosen not to vaccinate her children.

More than 97% of seventh graders across the state are up-to-date on their measles vaccinations according to numbers released by the Ohio Department of Health. Interwoven with her motherhood is her faith in God.

The CDC says there are now scattered cases in 19 states, including Washington, Arizona and Texas. "I think God is ideal". "But if folks ignore this order, then they are subject to the fine".

Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency-medicine physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, agreed that the outbreak "has the potential to escalate" if vaccination coverage isn't adequate in certain areas. "Vaccines are critical because they can reduce the frequency of outbreaks of disease and therefore can save lives", Glatter told Live Science.

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