Measles Cases Rise to 466 Including in Two Unvaccinated Children Spending Time in Areas with Measles Activity

84 unvaccinated individuals in Williamsburg have received summonses subject to fines

The Health Department releases new ad campaign and continues outreach to local residents and to mobilize the community to highlight the importance of vaccination and the dangers of measles

May 7, 2019 — To date, 466 cases of measles have been confirmed since the beginning of the outbreak last October. 379 cases (81%) 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). There have been 34 hospitalizations and nine admissions to the ICU due to complications. A small number of cases have occurred outside of these neighborhoods but have, to date, not resulted in sustained transmission of measles. The Health Department today identified three additional cases outside the affected neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Borough Park, Brooklyn. These cases occurred in persons living in Sunset Park, Brooklyn who do not identify as members of the Orthodox Jewish community. Two of these cases occurred in students who attend New York City public schools; both students had a religious exemption that allows them to attend school without being vaccinated. These individuals did not attend school while infectious. All three of these cases reported spending time in areas of NYC with known measles activity.

“Right now, we still see a highly localized outbreak in the Williamsburg community, even though there have been sporadic infections outside of the neighborhood,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “One reason we have not seen secondary infections outside this community is because so many people are vaccinated, underscoring the importance of vaccination. We want to urge people to remain calm. The best way to protect yourself as well as family, friends, neighbors and fellow New Yorkers is to make sure that you are immune from the measles if you have not already done so.”

“We are confident there is no increased risk of exposure at New York City public schools both because the recently diagnosed children from Sunset Park were not in school while infectious and because of the high vaccination rates of students in these and all NYC public schools,” said Deputy Commissioner Dr. Demetre Daskalakis. “This is the time to act. Measles is a highly contagious disease. If you are spending time in Williamsburg, Borough Park or other areas with measles activity in or around NYC confirm that you are immune to measles by looking at your vaccination history or by consulting with your healthcare provider. If you don’t know if you have been vaccinated and you live, work, study, or play in areas with measles activity, get vaccinated. It is safe and effective.”

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Individual Summonses
In addition, 84 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.

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 on May 13th, 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.



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