UPDATE — The Rockland County Department of Health will host a free vaccination clinic from 1-3 p.m., Wednesday. On the first day of the county’s new State of Emergency, which prohibits children who have not been vaccinated against measles from public places such as restaurants, stores, parks, hospitals and doctors’ offices and schools, health officials are offering the MMR shot free of charge.
The vaccine includes protection not only for measles but also for mumps and rubella. The clinic will be held on the 2nd floor of Building A, Robert L. Yeager Health Complex, 50 Sanatorium Road, Pomona, NY.
Less than 75 percent of county residents are vaccinated for measles, Rockland County Executive Ed Day said.
NEW CITY, NY — Rockland County Executive Ed Day declared a countywide State of Emergency relating to the ongoing measles outbreak. At a 2 p.m. press conference Tuesday, he said, effective at the stroke of midnight, Wednesday, March 27, anyone who is under 18 years of age and unvaccinated against the measles will be barred from public places until the declaration expires in 30 days or until they receive the MMR vaccination.
Public places, as defined by the county attorney, include places of public assembly, for civic or social reasons, including shopping centers and houses of worship. Outdoor places are not included.
“We owe this to the residents of this great county,” Day said, “so we never have to go through this again. We must do everything in our power to end this outbreak.”
He said the focus of this effort was the parents of the unvaccinated children.
Day said that there would not be law enforcement or deputy sheriffs asking people for their immunization records. However, if there was a referral for prosecution, he said it was a misdemeanor charge.
The emergency declaration was given under New York State Executive Law § 24.
The county is now up to 153 confirmed cases in its 25-week outbreak. Health officials have confirmed 14 more cases so far in March, starting off with one new case on March 1.
Officials believe there are many more unreported cases.
When asked why the state of emergency is just now being declared, Day said that if he had done it three months ago, he would have been told he was over-reacting.
He said there was an increase in resistance to getting vaccinated and the county was seeing more cases.
“We needed to do something more supportive of the health department,” Day said.
In one of the most recent confirmed cases, the sick person was willing to say what days she had been shopping at the Target in Spring Valley while contagious, but when health officials tried to narrow down the time, she refused to cooperate.
The measles virus is so virile it lingers in the air and on surfaces for up to two hours after an infected person has left. It is so highly contagious that an un-vaccinated or -immune person who shares close space with an infected person who sneezes or coughs has a 90 percent chance of contracting the illness. Contagious people on average pass measles to 18 others.
Anti-vaxxers have pushed back against the rules the county already put into place.
Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Ruppert said last week she was concerned that the outbreak would again pick up steam. It has primarily affected the Ultra-Orthodox communities of Monsey, New Square and Spring Valley, where spring holidays like Purim and Passover are celebrated with many events and visits.
The outbreak started in October in Rockland with a visit from an infected international traveler from Israel and the return of a Rockland family from Israel with members infected with measles.
The Ultra-Orthodox community in New York City is also experiencing a measles outbreak which has exploded in the past month. There have been 181 cases confirmed in NYC as of March 19. That’s 60 more cases since February. Health officials learned that parents and school officials had ignored rules keeping unvaccinated children home from yeshivas with low vaccination rates.
SEE: Measles Outbreak: Uncooperative Rocklanders Lead To More Cases
Additional reporting by Michael Woyton/Patch Staff.
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