Health Department Closes Flushing School for Violating Commissioner's Order During Measles Outbreak

498 cases have been confirmed since the beginning of a measles outbreak last October

May 13, 2019 — The Health Department announced today that it has closed a school in Flushing Queens for failing to comply with an Order of the Health Commissioner in response to the current measles outbreak. The Yeshiva of Central Queens (147-37 70th Road, Flushing, NY 11367) was closed today for not abiding by an Order of the Commissioner issued to this school on May 9, 2019, to exclude unvaccinated students for 21 days following a known exposure at the school. An exposure occurs when individuals come into contact with someone who had measles. The school will not be allowed to reopen until the Health Department reviews and approves a submitted corrective action plan that addresses the lapses in complying with the Order. The Health Department had previously closed eight schools—not including the program shut today—for failing to comply with the Commissioner’s Order. All eight have been authorized to reopen under Health Department monitoring after submitting a corrective action plan that was approved by the Department.

“In order to prevent outbreaks in new areas of the City we need parents to get their children vaccinated and schools to exclude children who are not up to date with the measles vaccine. We continue to urge unvaccinated New Yorkers to get vaccinated against measles as soon as possible,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “Exposures outside of the Williamsburg neighborhood have not resulted in sustained transmission because of relatively high levels of vaccination in affected communities. Maximizing the number of individuals up to date with their measles vaccine is the best way to protect our communities.”

Individual Summonses

In addition, 98 individuals have received summonses for being non-compliant with the Emergency Order since the City began issuing summonses. 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.

Current Case Count

To date, 498 cases of measles have been confirmed since the beginning of the outbreak last October. 399 cases (80%) have occurred in Williamsburg (ZIP codes 11205, 11206, 11211, 11249), which has been under an Emergency Order issued April 9 requiring those who live or work in these ZIP codes to have been vaccinated with the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (MMR). A small number of cases have occurred outside of these neighborhoods but have, to date, not resulted in sustained transmission of measles.

Community Outreach

The Health Department will continue to expand outreach to the affected community to provide education about the dangers of measles and the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. Since the beginning of the outbreak, the Health Department has:

  • Published ads and distributed educational materials specific to the Orthodox community in both English and Yiddish.
    • Starting today, a new ad campaign will run on bus shelters, LinkNYC kiosks, and in newspapers and online publications.
  • Met with rabbinical and community leaders, health care providers and local elected officials to highlight the importance of getting vaccinated and the dangers of measles.
  • Distribution of educational materials and approximately 29,000 pro-vaccination booklets (PDF) geared to the Orthodox community in both English and Yiddish.
  • Conducted six rounds of robocalls that have gone out to about 30,000 households each.
    • New robocalls will begin tonight.
  • Individual calls to 16,000 households will be made reminding people in the community of the importance of vaccination.
  • Sent text messages to almost 16,000 numbers.
  • Sent letters to parents who have not vaccinated their children to remind them to make an appointment with their doctor and schedule a vaccination.
  • Sent emails to medical providers with unvaccinated children in their practice encouraging immediate vaccination.
  • As of May 6, 2019, 22,833 doses of MMR have been administered to children 18 years and younger in Williamsburg and Borough Park since October 1, 2018.
  • 11,018 of those individuals reside in Williamsburg.
  • Hosted a tele-Town Hall on April 30, 2018 to counter anti-vaccination propaganda.

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



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