A single yeshiva in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn produced 21 of the 31 new cases of measles in Orthodox schools in February, 2019, NY health officials said on Thursday. The measles outbreak, which began in October, 2018, has now hit 121 victims, 108 of whom were children under 18.
In the case of one yeshiva, on Wilson Street between Division and Lee Avenues in Williamsburgh, patient zero was an unimmunized student who carried the disease without showing its symptoms, started to attend the yeshiva in mid-January, 2019, and spread the virus to his fellow students.
The problems this yeshiva has had with vaccinating its students go back to 1981, when its principal was fined a few hundred dollars by New York City’s Health Department for failing to insure that his students were properly immunized.
According to the NY Post, a week ago, the health department strongly recommended that health providers in the Orthodox Jewish community administer an early dose of the measles vaccine to children between the ages of 6 and 11 months who live in Williamsburg and Borough Park.
Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, Deputy Commissioner of Disease Control at the City’s Health Department, told WNYC this week that schools must forbid unimmunized students to attend. “The unvaccinated kid who got measles wouldn’t have been in the school and there wouldn’t have been a bunch of other students in the school and they wouldn’t have gotten measles. So we would actually be at closer to what would be the tail end of this outbreak,” he said.
According to WNYC, the vast majority of Orthodox children in New York City have been vaccinated, and about 1,800 Orthodox children are out of school for not having been vaccinated.