Amid Measles Outbreak in N.Y.C, Parents Challenge Order to Vaccinate Children

Mayor Bill de Blasio declared the public health emergency in the affected areas on Tuesday, the latest attempt to tackle a measles outbreak that is affecting mainly the ultra-Orthodox community

A sign warns people of measles in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Williamsburg on April 10, 2019 in New York City.
AFP

NEW YORK — A group of Brooklyn parents opposing New York City’s emergency declaration ordering people to get vaccinated for measles, have decided to challenge the order legally.

The group, represented by civil rights attorney Michael Sussman, is claiming that the order — which gives the city the ability to fine unvaccinated people in four zip codes in Williamsburg — is an overreach of authority.

Sussman also represented some residents of New York’s Rockland County last week who were challenging a similar executive order forbidding unvaccinated children from entering indoor public spaces.

A New York State judge sided with the parents and issued a preliminary injunction against the county’s order. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio declared the public health emergency in the affected areas on Tuesday — the latest attempt to tackle the city’s worst measles outbreak since 1991, and which affected mainly the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Community.

Under the declaration, every child over 6 months living in the four Brooklyn zip codes was required to get the MMR vaccine within two days.

Members of the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene would also be checking the vaccination records of any individual who may have been in contact with infected patients. Those who do not have evidence of immunity could be fined $1,000. 
 
“Your body is something that you as a guardian of your child control,” Sussman said last week, in relation to the Rockland County case. He suggested the local authorities had another agenda in declaring the emergency and were not acting in the public’s interest. 

“Big Pharma has to be stopped, it has to be regulated and it cannot be trusted,” he added. 
 
According to the New York Times, anti-vaxxer activists in the neighborhood have been circulating court affidavits stating: “I am a religious Jew whose religious convictions are being blatantly violated by the vaccine diktats, which are a clear violation of the Nuremberg Code, which forbids forcing medical procedures on anyone without their fully-informed consent.” 

The New York Times added: “Childhood diseases, like measles and chickenpox, unlike smallpox and ebola, are not a legitimate public health menace and do not justify an emergency declaration.”
 
In a recent statement, the Orthodox Union stressed that “Orthodox Jewish parents, like responsible parents across the United States, overwhelmingly vaccinate their children against measles, mumps, rubella, polio and the other childhood diseases for which inoculations are now almost miraculously commonplace.”