Published: Fri, March 29, 2019
Medical | By Mark Scott

Rockland County's ban on unvaccinated minors from public carries fine, jail

Rockland County's ban on unvaccinated minors from public carries fine, jail

The current outbreak "should not be used to justify eliminating the legal right to exercise informed consent to vaccination, which is protected by the inclusion of flexible medical, religious and conscientious-belief vaccine exemptions in public health laws", National Vaccine Information Center president Barbara Loe Fisher told Axios, adding that 100 measles cases out of a 320-million population "is not a public health emergency". Violations will be charged as misdemeanors and will be punishable by up to six months in jail and a $500 fine. Day stressed that officials will not be stopping people on the street to ask for their vaccination records.

The outbreak in Rockland County is largely concentrated in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, the New York Times reported.

In 2018, 17 outbreaks were reported throughout the US, including six throughout New York State and three in New Jersey, most of which started in Orthodox Jewish communities in those states. For the next 30 days, they are implementing a ban on allowing unvaccinated children to visit public spaces such as places of worship, shopping centres, and schools.

Day, with Rockland County, said authorities will not be searching for children who are not vaccinated but are expecting parents and legal guardians to step up and get children vaccinated. It poses the greatest risks to young children, pregnant women, and those who are immunocompromised, and it typically presents itself as a fever or rash on the face that then spreads to the rest of the body.

"The objective of this is not to put people in jail", Day said. Rates as low as 60 percent were found in parts of NY where measles spread, State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said in February.

"It's an attention grab, there's no question about it", Rockland County Executive Ed Day said at a news conference Tuesday according to The Associated Press.

Measles is highly contagious-according to the CDC, 90 percent of non-immunized individuals near an infected person will contract it-and can have serious complications, such as pneumonia and encephalitis.

According to the Associated Press, Day said at a new conference Tuesday that the move - which will be in place for 30 days, during which violators "could be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail" - was "an attention grab" meant to drive home the importance of vaccines.

"This type of response is unacceptable and irresponsible". Health officials say the best way to stop the disease's spread is a vaccination rate in the community of 92 to 95 percent. "It endangers the health and wellbeing of others and displays a shocking lack of responsibility and concern for others in our community".

Get the Monitor Stories you care about delivered to your inbox. A public health campaign involving community officials, doctors and rabbis emphasized the importance of vaccinations.

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