Health Law

Judge blocks parents’ move to quash measles vaccination order

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A Brooklyn judge has upheld New York City’s mandatory measles vaccination order, rejecting arguments from parents of unvaccinated children that the current outbreak does not justify “drastic emergency measures” that override individual rights.

In his decision, filed April 18, Judge Lawrence Knipel of the Kings County Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit brought by the group of five mothers, contending that there have been 285 measles diagnoses in the affected area as of April 8, compared to 85 diagnoses nationwide during all calendar year 2016. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, NPR and CNBC have coverage.

“Accordingly, this court can only conclude that there presently exists an emergent measles epidemic in the area codes in or bordering the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, sufficient to warrant the declaration of a public health emergency,” the judge said.

On April 9, New York City ordered mandatory measles, mumps and rubella vaccine for residents in parts of Williamsburg. The outbreak primarily affects the Orthodox Jewish community, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reports.

If adults in the affected areas fail to receive the vaccine or get their children the vaccine, they face a $1,000 fine. They face a $2,000 fine if they fail to appear at the hearing or respond to the summons, the city health department press release says.

Robert Krakow, one of the parents’ attorneys, told the Brooklyn Eagle that they are “reviewing the decision and deciding our next steps in our efforts to protect our clients’ civil and religious liberties.”

“We understand the need to protect the public, and we will continue our efforts to challenge unreasonable measures and make certain that public health authorities choose methods that are appropriate to the circumstances,” he said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 600 cases of measles have been confirmed in 22 states between Jan. 1 and April 19. This is the second-greatest number of U.S.-reported cases since the measles were eliminated in 2000.

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