NYC health officials warn against 'measles parties' amid biggest outbreak in decades

A public health emergency was declared in New York City on Tuesday due to a measles outbreak in Brooklyn. Health officials are warning against the idea of "measles parties." 

Such parties involve intentionally exposing unvaccinated children to other children with a disease, with the intent that they would get the disease themselves. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) "strongly recommends against holding or participating in these events" 


"We are concerned about families having measles parties," New York City Health Commissioner Dr.Oxiris Barbot said at a news conference, emphasizing that"We live in a different world now." 

"There are many more individuals who are living with chronic diseases, who are surviving cancer, and so we don't want children or adults to be unnecessarily exposed to measles due to " measles parties," she told reporters

The healthier order that was declared on Tuesday covers people who live in four zip codes in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, where more than 285 people have contracted measles since the fall; 21 of those cases led to hospitalizations, including five admissions to the intensive care unit.   

All unvaccinated individuals living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to receive the measles vaccine. Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city would issue violations and possibly fines of $1,000 for those who did not comply.

The health commissioner said that "nearly all"  measles cases in New York City have been associated with the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, and the outbreak is the largest since 1991. 

Earlier this week, the city ordered religious schools and day care programs serving that community to exclude unvaccinated students or risk being closed down 

Dr. Oxiris 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." 

The measles vaccine, which the CDC recommends children get two doses, is 97% effective, according to health officials. Called MMR, it protects against measles, mumps, and rubella. 

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