Photo Credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90
Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman gets vaccinated.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday announced that since Jan 1 it has received reports of 101 measles cases from 10 US states, while Madagascar and the Philippines are also reporting “steep increases” in measles outbreaks.

According to Newsweek, since last week, NYC health officials confirmed two new measles cases in Williamsburg and Borough Park, which brought the number Orthodox Jews diagnosed with measles since October 2018 to 67. Rockland County, NY, had 130 cases over roughly the same 5 months, with 82% of them not vaccinated, and 3% receiving one shot (the treatment requires two shots). Monroe County, NY, was hit by 7 cases. Orange County, NY, was also affected last year.

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Of at least 204 cases recorded since the beginning of 2018, many have hit the New York State’s Orthodox Jewish communities, supporters of the anti-vaccination movement. Anti-vaccine advocates target the community with misinformation, according to Vox, and the outbreaks often begin with tourists returning from Israel and other countries frequented by Orthodox Jews, which experience measles outbreaks.

Spectrum News reported recently that patient zero in the current outbreak may have been an unvaccinated American child who returned home from Ukraine and passed on the disease to two unvaccinated children.

A Monroe county health official stated early this month that “the important through-line that connects all […] seven measles cases in Monroe County—is that all seven of them are unvaccinated.”

Spectrum News reported this week that New York may soon follow California and Vermont with legislation that makes vaccinations mandatory, with medical reasons being the only exception to being vaccinated. Monroe County health dept. officials on Tuesday stood alongside University of Rochester Medicine and Rochester Regional Health officials to urge vaccinations.

“The message that we know is proven by science and the whole weight of guidelines issued in this country to promote vaccination,” said Monroe’s Commissioner of Public Health Dr. Michael Mendoza. “Vaccination is known to save lives.”

A spokesperson for the New York State Department of Health on Monday told USA Today that thousands of unvaccinated children have so far been excluded from 29 schools and daycare centers, and vowed to “continue our aggressive, multi-pronged response, until it is clear the outbreak has been contained.”

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