NY senator calls to end religious exemptions for measles vaccines

NEW YORK — As the number confirmed measles cases continues to rise across the country, officials in New York are calling to end the non-medical exemption for vaccinations in the state.

Senator Brad Hoylman D-N.Y., is advocating for the passing of a legislation that would end religious exemptions and loopholes from vaccination requirements for children.

There are 940 confirmed cases of measles in 26 states across the country, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The states that have reported cases to CDC are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Tennessee, and Washington.

As of May 24, 2019, there are 250 confirmed reported cases of measles in Rockland County and 535 confirmed cases in Brooklyn and Queens,according to the Health Department.  

Of the confirmed cases in New York City, most of these cases have involved members of the Orthodox Jewish community, the NYC Health Department reported.

As part of the ongoing efforts to contain the measles outbreak, officials in New York have closed more schools and issued fines to those who have failed to abide by an emergency order, requiring people to get the measles vaccine.

Earlier this month, the Health Department closed a Queens yeshiva after it failed to comply with the order. The Health Department had previously closed eight schools, not including Yeshiva in Queens, for failing to comply with the order. All eight of those schools have been authorized to reopen under Health Department monitoring, after they submitted corrective action plans approved by the department.

As of May 24, about 122 individuals have received summonses for being non-compliant with the emergency order, according to the city’s health department.

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.

Measles is a highly contagious disease that is transmitted by airborne particles, droplets and direct contact with respiratory secretions of an infected person.

Symptoms, including fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes, usually appear 10 to 12 days after exposure.

Measles can be prevented through vaccinations. New Yorkers are advised to call 311 to access a list of facilities that provide the MMR vaccine at little to no cost.

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