Parents have been holding highly dangerous 'measles parties' to expose unvaccinated kids to the disease
Parents across the state of New York have been planning and holding measles parties in a highly dangerous attempt to expose unvaccinated children to the disease, news reports say.
New York City officials have declared a state of emergency after a breakout of 285 cases of measles in a neighbourhood in Brooklyn, and the cases seem to be mostly from Orthodox Jewish communities, where a lot of the children remain unvaccinated.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is now requiring MMR vaccinations for certain zip codes in the city in an attempt to control the outbreak, with anybody declining to get the vaccination in the next 48 hours potentially subjected to a $1,000 fine.
"Every hour, every day matters here. If people would just go and get vaccinated, there's no cause for a fine," said de Blasio, according to CNN. "It's not our goal to issue violations. We want to simply solve the problem."
Talk show host Jimmy Kimmel has spoken out to the Anti-Vaxxer movement in the past:
The outbreak reportedly took place when a child got infected with measles whilst visiting Israel, and the same outbreak is responsible for 168 cases in Rockland County and 15 in Orange County, New York, as the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene explained.
"Since then [an outbreak in October], there have been additional people from Brooklyn and Queens who were unvaccinated and acquired measles while in Israel. People who did not travel were also infected in Brooklyn and Rockland County."
During a press conference, officials also confirmed the presence of 'measles parties', where parents are bringing their unvaccinated children together to expose them to measles, thereby hopefully keeping them safe from the disease later on, but NYC Health Commissioner Dr Oxiris Barbot warned strongly against this practice.
"Back in the day people were having parties to expose their kids to chickenpox," Barbot explained. "We live in a different world now... there are serious consequences to that," he added, noting that since September, as many as 8,000 people have now been vaccinated.
This sentiment was echoed by Dr Herminia Palacio, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, who warned of the potential consequences of intentionally contracting measles - where it can often be fatal.
"Avoid this practice," Palacio explained in no uncertain terms, adding: "This vaccine is safe. A variety of misunderstandings and frank untruths that are being propagated through a variety of channels."
In ordering the vaccinations, Mayor de Blasio also said that legal action to stop the mandatory vaccination policy would not work, explaining that he had the city's legal department look into the possibility "extensively".
"We are absolutely certain we have the right to do this. If anyone is thinking of a legal challenge, we are absolutely comfortable that we will win that case," de Blasio said, while warning the people of New York of a "serious situation".
"We saw only two cases in New York City in 2017, so we have a very serious situation on our hands. We cannot allow this dangerous disease to make a comeback in this city. We have to stop it now," added Mayor Bill de Blasio.