Measles continues to grow in the United States, with 555 cases according to figures released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), with two main outbreaks in New York where authorities have taken contested measures to force vaccination.
These figures, released just as the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a 300% jump in global measles cases in the first quarter of 2019, make the current US outbreak the second-worst epidemic since official elimination of measles in 2000, against a backdrop of growing anti-vaccine movement.
The two main outbreaks of the disease, reported in twenty states, are located in New York City, where 285 cases were reported from a population of 8.5 million, and in a remote suburb of New York, in the United States. Rockland County, with 184 confirmed cases per 300,000 population.
As of April 8, 465 cases had been counted since the beginning of the year in the whole country, already much more than on the whole of last year (372 cases). In 2016, there were only 86 patients in the United States (2 in New York).
To stem the epidemic, Rockland County and New York City Hall declared a state of health emergency and took extreme measures, much to the chagrin of anti-vaccines.
The New York City Hall on April 9 ordered the vaccination of all persons living or working in four particularly affected neighborhoods, located in Williamsburg, northwest of Brooklyn, under penalty of criminal prosecution and a fine of $ 1,000.
In Rockland, since the end of March, authorities have banned unvaccinated minors from public places.
Witnessing the vigor of the anti-vaccine movement, these measures are being contested in court.
A Rockland judge granted a temporary ban order to parents who considered it disproportionate, as the epidemic has not killed anyone so far.
And in New York, five parents filed a lawsuit Monday in the state Supreme Court against the vaccination order of the town hall.
They claim that “evidence of a dangerous epidemic is insufficient (…) to justify these extraordinary measures, including forced vaccination”, and also claim a temporary injunction against this order.
New York State requires a series of vaccinations to enter the school system, but the law allows for exemptions for religious reasons, which are now disputed.
Beyond the anti-vaccine movement, the controversy has a religious aspect, since most cases have been recorded in areas with a high Orthodox Jewish population.
Robert Krakow, the lawyer who lodged the complaint on Monday, pointed out that there were two non-Jewish parents among the five complaining parents.
And many leaders of the Orthodox community have ensured that nothing in religion forbids vaccination.
Bryce Liane graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University with a BA in Arts. Bryce grew up in Stanford, but moved to Hartford for college. Bryce has written for several major publications including the Buzz Feed and Heavy.com. Bryce is a community reporter and also covers stories important important to all Americans.