Portions of today's Dept. of Health Press Release
Delaying Vaccination Puts Young Children At Risk For The Disease
Doctors Urged to Report Measles Cases
May 21, 2013 – The Health Department announced today that it has identified 34 cases of measles in Brooklyn – 27 in Borough Park and 7 in Williamsburg – and is urging families to make sure all persons in the household, including young children, are vaccinated. Doctors are urged to be vigilant and promptly report suspected cases to the agency. All 34 cases involved adults or children who were not vaccinated at the time of exposure due to refusal or delays in vaccination. Some infants who are too young to be vaccinated also contracted measles after being exposed to older, unvaccinated family members. Measles is highly contagious and can spread easily to unprotected individuals through airborne transmission.
“Children should be vaccinated against measles when they are 12 months of age,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. “Vaccinating children will protect them and help protect infants who are too young to be vaccinated by reducing their risk of exposure. Delaying a child’s vaccination increases the risk of contracting measles and infecting others.”
As many as one in three children with measles develop complications such as diarrhea, ear infection or pneumonia. Infants under one year of age, people who have a weakened immune system and non-immune pregnant women are at highest risk of severe illness and complications. Three people infected in this outbreak have had complications. People who contract the measles virus can spread the infection for four days before developing a rash, and for four days after the rash sets in.
Measles vaccination is required for admission to the City’s schools, colleges and daycare centers. The first measles vaccine dose should be given at the time of the child’s first birthday, with the second dose being administered at 4 to 6 years of age. In New York City, approximately 91.5% of children between the ages of 19 and 35 months have received at least one measles vaccine.
“This has the potential to become a serious epidemic and we commend the Health Department for their swift response in dealing with it,” said Rabbi Yeruchim Silber, Boro Park Community Council. “At the same time I urge all Boro Park residents to check with their physicians, make sure all immunizations are up to date and follow any other relevant instructions so that together we can contain this outbreak.”
“It is imperative for parents to vaccinate their children against very preventable diseases such as measles, mumps or rubella,” said State Senator Simcha Felder. “There is no reason anyone – child or adult – should become ill from these or other diseases when medical science has developed a means to prevent such infections. While parents have the right to refuse to vaccinate their children, their decision cannot and should not impinge on the health and well-being of others in their schools, neighborhoods, and communities.”
“Our most precious commodities are our children – that’s what life is all about,” said Assemblyman Dov Hikind. “People need to take the dangers of this disease seriously and protect themselves and their families from tragedies that are avoidable. The measles vaccination saves lives.”
Measles is a viral infection characterized by a rash, fever (101 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit), cough, red eyes and runny nose. The illness typically lasts five to six days, with a rash that begins on the face and then moves down the body, including the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Complications from measles can include ear infections, diarrhea, pneumonia, miscarriage, brain inflammation, hospitalization and even death.
Protect Yourself and Your Family from Measles:
- Babies should receive the first measles shot when they turn 1.
- Vaccinating older children is the best way to protect children who are too young to get the shot.
- If your child is over 1 year of age and has not had the measles shot, it is important to get the child vaccinated as soon as possible to prevent measles.
- Two doses of measles vaccine are required for full protection. Children usually get the second measles shot at 4 to 6 years of age before going to school.
- Older children and adults who have not received two measles shots may be at risk of infection.
· Vaccinations are very safe. The benefits far outweigh any risks. Side effects are usually mild, such as soreness where the shot was given.
- Be sure that you and your family are fully vaccinated prior to international travel. Outbreaks are occurring in Europe, including the United Kingdom. Measles is found in many parts of the world, including Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
Ask your doctor about vaccinating your children. You can also call 311 to find out where your child can be vaccinated.
Jean Weinberg/Veronica Lewin: PressOffice@health.nyc.gov