New York City measles outbreak over, emergency order lifted

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The measles outbreak concentrated in Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in New York City is over, meaning an emergency order mandating vaccines will be lifted, health officials said Tuesday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot announced the end to the measles public health emergency declared on April 9 for parts of Brooklyn.

Measles outbreaks are typically declared over when two incubation periods for measles (the equivalent of 42 days) have passed since the last infectious day of the last persons with measles in affected areas. That time period has now passed for the people most recently infected with measles and reported to the health department.

"Ending the measles outbreak required extensive collaboration with community organizations and Jewish leaders," de Blasio said. "They helped encourage vaccinations and achieve record immunization levels in parts of Brooklyn. As we head back to school this week, we just remain vigilant. To keep our children and communities safe, I urge all New Yorkers to get vaccinated. It's the best defense we have."

The city has seen 654 cases of measles, the most in 30 years, since the outbreak began in October 2018, officials said. That prompted an emergency order mandating that nearly everyone in those neighborhoods get vaccinated or face possible fines.

There were no fatalities, but some of the infections required hospitalization.

In June, state lawmakers revoked a religious exemption for mandatory school vaccinations. More than 26,000 children in public and private schools and day care centers had previously gone unvaccinated for religious reasons, according to state officials.

Now, the clock is ticking for them to get up to date on their shots, though many are opting to home school or move out of the state.

New York became the fourth state, along with California, Mississippi and West Virginia, to eliminate religious and personal-belief exemptions for vaccines. All states allow medical exemptions.

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