New York Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a public health emergency in parts of Brooklyn on Tuesday, ordering all residents to be vaccinated to contain a measles outbreak concentrated in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.
The order covers people who live in four ZIP codes in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, where more than 250 people have contracted measles since September. Violators could face a fine of $1,000, officials said.
Since October, however, 285 cases of measles have been confirmed in New York City.
Most of the NY cases involved unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated individuals, according to De Blasio's office. So far, 21 people have been hospitalized. The other locations include areas of Washington state and Michigan, Butte County and Santa Cruz County in California, Rockland County in NY, and Ocean County in New Jersey.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all children get two doses of measles vaccine. Officials blamed the outbreak on "anti-vaxxers" spreading false information. Officials in New York City were no different in their blame.
Dr. Oxiris Barbot, the health commissioner, said that New Yorkers need to know that the MMR vaccine is safe.
"I urge everyone, especially those in affected areas, to get their MMR vaccines to protect their children, families and communities", de Blasio said in the statement.
Neighborhood officials said the vast majority of Orthodox Jews in Williamsburg are vaccinated, but because the community is so tightly knit, just a small number of anti-vaxers is allowing this outbreak to grow. "They have been spreading unsafe misinformation based on fake science", he said in the news release. Schools that don't comply face fines and closure.
The city has also threatened to shut down yeshivas, or traditional Jewish religious schools, if they do not follow an order to keep unvaccinated children out of class.