New measles vaccine
New measles vaccine

A county in the northern suburb of New York City has banned unvaccinated children under the age of 18 from public spaces as the state of New York is combating the worst measles outbreak in decades, local authorities said on Tuesday.

Rockland County, which sits around 64 km north of Manhattan, has seen over 150 cases of measles infection since October. A majority of the infected are minors who have not been vaccinated, according to local health officials. The ban begins at midnight Tuesday and will last for 30 days. The public spaces in the ban include schools, restaurants, businesses, shopping centers and places of worship.

Parents and guardians will be held accountable if any violation is found and their cases will be referred to the district attorney’s office, according to authorities. “The circumstances we’re facing here clearly call for that,” Rockland County Executive Ed Day said during a press conference. “We will not sit idly by while children in our community are at risk.”

Rockland is among several counties in the state that are experiencing the longest measles outbreak since the disease was announced as eliminated from the United States in 2000. It began last autumn when a local child came back from a trip to Israel, where a battle against measles had been going on for months. State and local health departments have urged parents to get their children vaccinated as soon as possible, even earlier than the scheduled age of one.

Measles spreads easily and can be dangerous to anyone who is not vaccinated, especially young children and pregnant women. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one or two out of every 1,000 children infected with measles will die from severe complications.In 2018, 17 outbreaks and 349 cases were reported in 27 jurisdictions of the United States. Low vaccination rate is widely believed as the reason behind recent outbreaks.

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