Health Department Closes Williamsburg School for Violating Commissioner’s Order During Measles Outbreak

This is the tenth school that has received a closure order from the Health Department since the April 9 measles emergency order

Since the April 9 Emergency Order, 51,124 MMR vaccinations have been administered to children 6 months to 18 years citywide, a 38% increase compared to the same time period last year; of those, 3,844 were administered to children from Williamsburg — a 99% increase compared to the same time period last year

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

June 11, 2019 — The Health Department announced today that it has closed a school in Williamsburg for failing to comply with an Order of the Health Commissioner in response to the current measles outbreak. Central UTA Boys Division (762 Wythe Avenue, Williamsburg, NY 11249) was closed today for failing to exclude staff and students who did not have documentation of immunity. The school also received violations for not having an adequate staff to student ratio and for not providing Health Department inspectors with vaccination and attendance records in the time allotted. 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 Commissioner’s Order. The Health Department had previously closed nine schools — not including the program shut today — for failing to comply with the Commissioner’s Order. After submitting a corrective action plan, all nine have been authorized to reopen under Health Department monitoring.

“School staff, parents, and health care providers need to continue playing their role in bringing this outbreak to an end” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “We’ve seen our weekly case counts decline, but the reality is, this outbreak is not over, and the Health Department will continue to use all the resources and strategies available to us. We urge anyone who can get vaccinated to do so.”

Current Case Count

To date, 588 cases of measles have been confirmed since the beginning of the outbreak last October. 437 cases (74%) 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.

Vaccination Progress

Since the April 9 Emergency Order, 51,124 MMR vaccinations have been administered to children 6 months to 18 years citywide, a 38% increase when compared to the same time period last year. Of those immunizations, 3,844 vaccines were administered to children in Williamsburg, a 99% increase in that neighborhood compared to the same time period last year.

Individual Summonses

In addition, 173 individuals have received summonses for being non-compliant with the Emergency Order since the City began issuing summonses last week. 68 of those have been cancelled as the individual presented proof of immunity or got vaccinated. 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.

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 last month, ads have been 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.
  • Worked with community leaders and community-based organizations on vaccine education.
  • Distribution of approximately 29,000 pro-vaccination booklets (Tzim Gezint (PDF)) geared to the Orthodox community in both English and Yiddish.
  • Conducted 25 rounds of robocalls that have gone out to about 30,000 households each.
  • 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.
  • 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 (PDF) 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