Health Department Closes Two Schools for Violating Commissioner's Order During Measles Outbreak

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

57 unvaccinated individuals in Williamsburg have received summonses subject to fines

The Health Department continues to ramp up outreach to the community to highlight the importance of vaccination and the dangers of measles

April 29, 2019 — The Health Department announced today that it has closed two more schools for failing to comply with an Order of the Health Commissioner in response to the current measles outbreak. The Order requires yeshivas and child care programs in certain zip codes to exclude unvaccinated students and to maintain medical and attendance records on site and provide the Department with immediate access to those records. The school Tiferes Bnos (585 Marcy Avenue 11206) and preschool Talmud Torah D’Nitra (1007 Bedford Avenue 11205) will not be allowed to reopen until the Health Department reviews and approves a submitted corrective action plan that addresses the ongoing lapses in complying with the Order. The Health Department had previously closed five schools — not including the programs shuttered today — for failing to comply with the Commissioner’s Order. All five have been authorized to reopen under Health Department monitoring after submitting a corrective action plan that was approved by the Department.

“Schools that continue to disregard our direction during the outbreak will be closed down until they can prove to the Health Department that they will comply,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “The reality is, the longer it takes schools and individuals to comply with our Order, the longer this outbreak will continue.”

Individual Summonses
In addition, 57 individuals have received summonses for being non-compliant with the Emergency Order since the City began issuing summonses last week. 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, 423 cases of measles have been confirmed since the beginning of the outbreak last October. 348 cases (82%) 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.

Geographic Distribution of Cases
Eight individuals, including the initial case, acquired measles while travelling abroad to Israel (5), the United Kingdom (2) and Ukraine (1), areas with active outbreaks, highlighting the need for MMR vaccination for individuals traveling overseas. A small number of cases have occurred outside of the Williamsburg and Borough Park neighborhoods at the core of the current outbreak. These cases have been diagnosed in residents of Midwood/Marine Park (4), Brighton Beach (2), Flushing (2), Crown Heights (1), Bensonhurst (1), Far Rockaway (1) and the Hunts Point, Longwood and Melrose section of The Bronx (1). Seven individuals who do not identify as members of the Orthodox Jewish community have been diagnosed with measles since the outbreak began in October 2018. Of individuals who acquired measles in New York City, only one person diagnosed with measles during this outbreak does not report an exposure associated with the Orthodox Jewish community of Williamsburg, Borough Park, or other area with measles activity.

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.
  • 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
  • Conducted six rounds of robocalls that have gone out to about 30,000 households each.
  • This week 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.
  • As of April 28, 2019, 21,284 doses of MMR have been administered to children 18 years and younger in Williamsburg and Borough Park since October 1, 2018. 10,209 of those individuals reside in Williamsburg.

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.



MEDIA CONTACT: Patrick Gallahue / Michael Lanza, (347) 396-4177