Measles Cases Reach 550

Seven cases identified in Staten Island, six of which are linked to outbreak in Rockland County and date back to March, and one confirmed diagnosis of a Manhattan resident linked to Sunset Park

Health Department outreach in Spanish and Chinese launches this week to promote vaccination in neighborhoods with measles activity

May 29, 2019 — There have been 550 individuals diagnosed with measles as of May 28, 2019 since the beginning of the outbreak last October. Of these cases identified citywide, seven are Staten Island residents and another lives in Manhattan. Six of the Staten Island cases date back to March with an exposure in Rockland County, New York where there is ongoing measles activity. These cases were only reported recently by a health care provider because these individuals came to care after their illnesses resolved. The one remaining case in Staten Island is linked to Sunset Park, Brooklyn where there is ongoing measles activity. In addition, a Manhattan resident has been diagnosed with measles, which is also due to an exposure in Sunset Park. There are no known transmissions linked to these eight cases. The majority of cases (77%) have occurred in the Williamsburg neighborhood (ZIP codes 11205, 11206, 11211, 11249), which has been under an Emergency Order since April 9, requiring people who reside or work in these ZIP codes to be vaccinated with the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. There have been 42 measles-related hospitalizations and 12 admissions to intensive care units due to measles complications since the beginning of the outbreak in October.

“The recently identified cases are linked to exposures in neighborhoods with known measles activity,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “These cases prove the urgent need to get vaccinated, especially if you spend time in areas that are experiencing an outbreak. This message cannot be overstated — if you live, work or attend school in these sections of the city, get vaccinated if you are able. We thank the thousands of people throughout the city who have gotten vaccinated. Each one of you has taken a critical step to protect your family, your neighbors and yourselves.”

The six of the individuals from Staten Island were exposed in Rockland County.. Exposures have been identified in Sunset Park, Brooklyn and, as of May 28, 2019, there have been 12 confirmed cases in the neighborhood. Last week, the Health Department added Sunset Park to the list of areas in NYC with measles activity that have expanded vaccination recommendations for people who live, work, or spend time in this area of the City. Recommendations include two doses of MMR for adults without documentation of vaccination, an extra, early dose of MMR for infants ages 6 to 11 months and an early dose of MMR for children ages 1 to 4 years following the routine dose at 12 months of age, as long as 28 days have passed since the last dose. The Health Department continues enhanced city-wide surveillance for measles to identify and address any measles transmission. This week, the Health Department is scaling up its community outreach in the Sunset Park community and launching engagement drives in Spanish and Chinese to raise awareness and encourage vaccination among children and adults. These efforts include:

  • Publication of ads and distribution educational materials in English, Spanish and Chinese.
  • Robocalls in English, Spanish and Mandarin.
  • Engagement 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, 123 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.

Health Care Provider Outreach

The Health Department continues to work with local health care providers to increase vaccination in areas with measles as well as citywide through direct technical assistance, provision of vaccine, and health alerts. On May 24, 2019, 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 health care settings.

As of May 24, 2019, 25,510 doses of MMR have been administered to children aged 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 continues 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 geared to the Orthodox Jewish 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 / Michael Lanza, (347) 396-4177