Measles Cases Rise to 535

Four additional cases identified in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Health Department expands its outreach to raise awareness and promote vaccination in Spanish and Chinese

There have now been 122 summonses subject to fines to individuals for being non-compliant with the Emergency Order

Health Department continues to urge New Yorkers to vaccinate. New Yorkers are responding: Over 25,000 doses of MMR have been administered in Williamsburg and Borough Park since October 1

May 24, 2019 — There have been 535 cases of measles confirmed as of May 23 since the beginning of the outbreak last October. The majority of cases (78%) remain confined to the neighborhood of Williamsburg (ZIP codes 11205, 11206, 11211, 11249), which has been under an Emergency Order since April 9, requiring people who live or work in these ZIP codes to be vaccinated with the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (MMR). There have been 40 hospitalizations and 11 admissions to the ICU due to complications. In addition, outside of Williamsburg, there have now been 12 confirmed cases in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, which is an increase of four since the last public update on May 20.

“Williamsburg remains the epicenter of this outbreak, though we have seen some cases in people outside of the Orthodox Jewish community,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “Given the high vaccination rates in Sunset Park, we do not foresee sustained transmission in this neighborhood. However, measles is extremely contagious, and I strongly urge unvaccinated New Yorkers to immediately get the vaccine, unless there is a medical condition that prevents them from doing so. All New Yorkers should get vaccinated or confirm their immunity status with their doctor.”

The cases in Sunset Park are among individuals who do not identify as part of the Orthodox Jewish community. While the vaccination rate among children in this neighborhood is high, the Health Department will scale up community outreach in the area’s most commonly spoken languages to raise awareness and encourage vaccinations among children and adults. The Health Department will:

  • Publish ads and distribute educational materials in English, Spanish and Chinese beginning next week.
  • Conduct robocalls in English, Spanish and Mandarin.
  • Engage with local leaders on events and other opportunities to inform people about the importance of vaccination as well as how to get vaccinated.

Individual Summonses

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.

To date, 122 individuals have received summonses for being non-compliant with the Emergency Order in ZIP codes 11205, 11206, 11211, and 11249 since the City began issuing summonses in mid-April. 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.

Healthcare Provider Outreach

The Health Department continues to work with local healthcare providers to increase vaccination in areas with measles as well as citywide through direct technical assistance, provision of vaccine, and health alerts. Today, a health alert was issued for health care providers in Sunset Park. Additionally, the Health Department provides guidance on infection control strategies to prevent transmission of measles in healthcare settings.

As of May 23, 25,510 doses of MMR have been administered to children 18 years and younger in Williamsburg and Borough Park since October 1, 2018, which is 11,387 more doses than the same time period last year. 12,238 of those individuals reside in Williamsburg, which is 6,298 more than last year.

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 and launched an ad campaign that is running 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.
  • Distributed educational materials and approximately 29,000 pro-vaccination booklets (PDF) geared to the Orthodox community in both English and Yiddish.
  • Conducted eleven rounds of robocalls.
  • Called 16,000 households 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.
  • Hosted a tele-Town Hall on April 30, 2018 to counter anti-vaccination propaganda.

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



MEDIA CONTACT: Patrick Gallahue / Pedro Frisneda, (347) 396-4177