Many parents are undoubtedly concerned after New York declared its worst measles outbreak in decades on Tuesday. The Rockland County-based outbreak has prompted a state of emergency, and "anyone who is under 18 years of age and unvaccinated against the measles" will be barred from public places for 30 days starting Wednesday at midnight, as NBC New York reported.
Rockland County, which is located about 40 miles north of New York City, has 153 confirmed cases of measles as of Tuesday, according to ABC News. Out of those 153 cases, 15 percent are less than 1 year old, 23 percent are 1 to 3 years old, 45 percent are between 4 to 18, and 15 percent are 19 or older, according to Rockland County's press release. As for the vaccination rates? About 82 percent of the patients are unvaccinated, The Washington Post reported.
In response to these concerning statistics, the county has issued a state of emergency. A state of emergency can be declared during a "situation or imminent threat of widespread or severe damage, injury or loss of life or property, resulting from a natural or man-made cause," according to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety.
Starting at 12 a.m ET on Wednesday, anyone in Rockland County who is under 18 and "who has not yet been vaccinated will be barred from public places until they receive the MMR vaccine or until the emergency declaration expires in 30 days," according to ABC News.
Rockland County first encountered a problem with measles in September 2018, after an "international traveler arrived in Rockland County with a suspected case of the measles," according to the press release. Since the suspected case, the county said there have been "additional cases of measles from international travelers to Rockland, exposing more people to measles." And when unvaccinated people come in contact with other unvaccinated people, an outbreak can occur.
Unfortunately, this outbreak isn't the first one of 2019. A measles outbreak hit Washington and Oregon in January, according to The Oregonian, and in December of last year, the New York City Department of Health required unvaccinated students to stay home from some schools due to a measles outbreak in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Borough Park, according to NBC New York.
To prevent further measles outbreaks, there is only one option: vaccinations. "Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent measles. And when enough people get vaccinated against measles, the entire community is less likely to get it," The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) website states. "So when you and your family get vaccinated, you help keep yourselves and your community healthy."
Make sure your kid gets their first dose of MMR between 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose between 4 through 6 years of age, according to the HHS' website. If you have any concerns/questions about the vaccine, don't hesitate to reach out to a trusted medical professional.
Although some parents might not agree with Rockland County's barring of unvaccinated children from public spaces for 30 days, health officials deemed it a necessary measure to keep residents safe.