The spread of measles continues in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Since the outbreak began, 466 cases have been reported in Brooklyn; however, but the spread is slowing down, said NYC health officials on Tuesday.
Deputy Health Commissioner Dr. Demetre Daskalakis said, “We saw 43 cases last week, but actually if you look at our curve, we’re actually starting to see a slow decrease in newer cases. So we have fewer newer cases, meaning that I think we’re starting to see a glimmer of, actually more than a glimmer, the beginning of hope that we’re nearing, you know, a decrease in what we’re seeing with new measles cases.”
Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot called the measles outbreak a “highly localized” danger with nearly 80 percent of the cases found in four Williamsburg zip codes that have large populations of Orthodox Jews.
Dr. Barbot said, “We want to urge people to remain calm. The best way to protect yourself as well as family, friends, neighbors and fellow New Yorkers is to make sure that you are [vaccinated].”
Eighty-four parents have been issued citations to allow unvaccinated children in public places since the city declared an emergency in the four zip codes. In the past week, 27 citations were issued.
In the past week, only three cases have been found outside the Orthodox Jewish community, which took place in the Sunset Park neighborhood that involved children who had been permitted a religious vaccine exemption to attend public school without getting vaccinated.
Health officials explained that they did not attend school while having affected by measles, which means the danger to other students was limited.
NYC officials are launching an aggressive pro-vaccination campaign that includes thousands of robocalls, bus and subway advertisements in English as well as Yiddish, a language spoken by Hasidic Jews.
Jewish leaders have said that they support NYC’s effort to combat measles, including the crackdown. They said only a small minority of Hasidic Jews deny getting vaccinated.
Yosef Rapaport, a media consultant and Yiddish podcaster, said, “The fight over vaccination is with 5% of the population. Don’t blame the whole community.” He added, “The vaxxers and the anti-vaxxers are in the same community. We go to the same synagogues, we got to the same schools, the same weddings.” In the meantime, according to a new poll, more than 85 percent of Americans believe measles vaccination should be made mandatory, irrespective of religious, philosophical or other backgrounds. Also, the new poll found that 77 percent of Americans say children should get the measles vaccine, regardless of their parents like it or not.