With NYC On Alert, Health Department Issues Measles Summonses To People Failing To Comply

Being fearful of measles in Harlem, the Health Department today announced it is issuing three civil summonses, subject to fines, to people who failed to comply with the Commissioner’s Emergency Order mandating measles vaccination.

Any person receiving the summons is entitled to a hearing, and if the hearing officer upholds the summons, a $1,000 penalty will be imposed. Failing to appear at the hearing or respond to the summons will result in a $2,000 fine.

To stop the spread of measles in New York City, the Health Department on April 9 ordered adults and children ages 6 months and older who live, work or go to school in ZIP codes 11205, 11206, 11211 and 11249 receive a measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine within 48 hours. If non-compliant, the Health Department announced it would issue a civil summons to those in the affected ZIP codes who had not been vaccinated as of April 12. Any person receiving the summons is entitled to a hearing, and if the hearing officer upholds the summons, a $1,000 penalty will be imposed. Failing to appear at the hearing or respond to the summons will result in a $2,000 fine.

Since the Emergency Order took effect, the Health Department carefully investigated cases with the help of its disease detectives. Many of the people who were contacts of individuals with measles had proof of vaccination, however the Health Department identified three children who were exposed to the measles but still unvaccinated as of April 12. The cases will go to a hearing where the parent will be fined $1,000 if the violations are upheld.

Additionally, the Health Department is issuing closure orders for four additional school sites. The Health Department is working closely with community leaders to ensure schools are families are complying with the Emergency Orders. The schools or pre-schools are located at: 68-84 Harrison Ave.; 241 Keap St.; 590 Bedford Ave. and 720 Wythe Ave.

The Health Department also announced that the United Talmudical Academy (UTA), located at 75 Ross Street in Williamsburg, reopened today under Health Department monitoring after it was closed on Tuesday for failing to provide access to vaccination and attendance records.

Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot said, “Because of measles’ long incubation period, we know this outbreak will get worse before it gets better. However, we can turn the tide by people getting vaccinated, especially before Passover when families and communities will gather. We urge everyone to protect their children and their fellow New Yorkers by getting vaccinated immediately.”

As of Monday, 329 cases of measles have been confirmed since the outbreak began last October, with 44 additional cases added since last week’s Emergency Order from the Commissioner. Six of the additional 44 cases are newly diagnosed, while the other 38 are recently discovered, but had infection onset prior to the emergency declaration. The majority of cases are children under 18 years of age (284 cases), and 45 cases are adults.

As of Monday, 329 cases of measles have been confirmed since the outbreak began last October, with 44 additional cases added since last week’s Emergency Order from the Commissioner. Six of the additional 44 cases are newly diagnosed, while the other 38 are recently discovered, but had infection onset prior to the emergency declaration. The majority of cases are children under 18 years of age (284 cases), and 45 cases are adults. Most of these measles cases were unvaccinated or had only one dose of the vaccine. There have been no deaths associated with this outbreak, although there have been complications, including 25 hospitalizations and six admissions to the intensive care unit. Additionally, 23 yeshivas and day care programs have received Notice of Violations (NOVs) for not following the outbreak-related school exclusion order; UTA at 75 Ross Street was the first program to be closed.

Most cases have been reported from Williamsburg and Borough Park, Brooklyn. Five cases, including the initial case of measles, were acquired on a visit to Israel, where a large outbreak of the disease is occurring. Two people contracted measles from the U.K. and one from Ukraine.

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While the MMR vaccine is the safest and most effective method of prevent measles, it is 97 percent effective, so population wide immunity is a key component to protecting the most at risk New Yorkers from measles. Pregnant women – even if they have received the MMR vaccine – are still at risk of complications including loss of pregnancy.

Measles is a highly contagious disease and can cause pneumonia, encephalitis (swelling of the brain), and death. Measles is easily preventable with the safe and effective MMR vaccine. Newborns, pregnant individuals, and those with weakened immune systems cannot get vaccinated, so it is important that everyone around them be vaccinated in order to protect them from contracting the virus which can have severe complications in these susceptible populations. While the MMR vaccine is the safest and most effective method of preventing measles, it is 97 percent effective, so population-wide immunity is a key component to protecting the most at-risk New Yorkers from measles. Pregnant women – even if they have received the MMR vaccine – are still at risk of complications including loss of pregnancy.

Measles Background

Measles is transmitted by airborne particles, droplets, and direct contact with the respiratory secretions of an infected person.

Symptoms usually appear 10 to 12 days after exposure to measles, and in some cases, symptoms can start as early as seven days or as late as 21 days following exposure.

Symptoms usually appear 10 to 12 days after exposure to measles, and in some cases, symptoms can start as early as seven days or as late as 21 days following exposure.

Early symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes.

Rash and fever are the typical symptoms of measles and usually occur four days following the early symptoms. The rash usually starts on the face and proceeds down the body. The rash lasts several days.

Infected individuals are contagious from four days before rash onset through the fourth day after rash appearance.

Anyone can contract measles but the virus is more severe in infants, pregnant women, and people whose immune systems are weak. Complications include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Ear infections
  • Pneumonia
  • Encephalitis (swelling of the brain)
  • Premature birth or low birth-weight
  • Miscarriage
  • Death

About 1 out of 1,367 children < 5 years developed a late, fatal complication of measles, subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), an average of 9.5 years after recovery from measles infection.

Precautions New Yorkers Should Take

  • Measles can be prevented through vaccinations. New Yorkers should call 311 to access a list of facilities that can provide MMR at low or no cost.
  • There are large outbreaks of measles in Europe and Israel, as well as in countries in South America, Africa, and Asia. New Yorkers should make sure they have been vaccinated with MMR vaccine before traveling to Europe or Israel. Infants ages 6 to 11 months should also be vaccinated prior to international travel.
  • New Yorkers who believe they were exposed to measles or who have symptoms of measles should contact their health care provider before seeking care to prevent exposure to other patients.

For more information, New Yorkers can visit the Health Department’s Measles page.

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