Parents: There's a Measles Outbreak Among Unvaccinated Kids

MMR vaccine

Parents in New York state are on high alert about several cases of measles that have broken out primarily in Brooklyn. According to city health officials, one child came back from a trip to Israel infected with the disease, and then he or she exposed others.

  •  There are currently six confirmed cases of the contagious viral infection, according to the New York City Health Department.

    And the children, who all live in the Williamsburg Orthodox Jewish community, range in ages from 11 months to 4 years old.

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  • The New York City Health Department notes that five of the children were unvaccinated prior to exposure.

    Four had delayed vaccination, and one who was too young to have received the vaccine. The sixth child had received one dose of the vaccine prior to exposure but was not yet immune.

  • They also noted that one child suffered complications related to pneumonia and was hospitalized, and another had an ear infection.

    At the same time, there are seven more people who have the virus in New York State, outside of the metropolitan area. Five of them acquired measles when they were traveling to Israel, and two are individuals infected after an exposure to a person with measles.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an outbreak, or epidemic, occurs when there are more cases of disease than would normally be expected in a specific time and place. "Although measles is preventable, too many families are choosing to not vaccinate or delay vaccination, putting their children and other children at risk,” said Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot, according to the New York Post.

  • The department’s acting commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot, noted that part of the issue is that parents are passing on the MMR vaccine.

    “The problem is that we still have folks who refuse to get their children vaccinated,” Barbot said in the health department's press release. “And that has consequences. It is also important to make sure the entire family is protected before traveling internationally, because outbreaks of measles are occurring in Israel and throughout Europe." 

    There have been more than 41,000 cases of measles in Europe this year, and 40 have died, according to NBC News.

  • On NBC New York's post about the story, many commenters expressed incredulity that parents aren't vaccinating.

  • Of course some expressed skepticism about the vaccine's efficacy, illustrating part of the problem.

  • The health department is now reminding concerned parents that vaccination -- especially for this contagious virus -- is so important.

    The health department, as well as the CDC, recommends the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine for children at age 12 months, with a second dose at 4 to 6 years old. Two doses of MMR are required to attend kindergarten through grade 12. Children attending daycare, nursery school, Head Start and pre-K are required to have one dose of MMR vaccine. All persons, including infants ages 6 to 11 months, should be vaccinated prior to international travel. 

    The New York City Health Department is also encouraging parents to keep ill children at home and not send them to daycare or school. If there is measles in a student, all unvaccinated children -- including those with a medical or religious exemption -- will be excluded and unable to attend the daycare or school for 21 days after their last exposure.

    Barbot warned, "If your child develops a fever and rash, contact their health care provider and keep your children home from school or daycare."