Lawyer Michael Sussman said Wednesday that the city overreached its authority by threatening to fine residents of four Brooklyn ZIP codes if they refuse to have their children vaccinated.
The state of emergency banned anyone who is under 18 years of age and unvaccinated against the measles from public places in Rockland County.
"We can not allow this unsafe disease to make a comeback here in New York City", Mayor Bill de Blasio, D, said Tuesday. Mr. Sussman told local NY media that he hoped to file a lawsuit by Friday.
And while the highly contagious respiratory disease has yet to hit Utahns, "we're only one airline flight within a case coming here", said Dr. Tamara Sheffield, medical director for community health and prevention at Intermountain Healthcare.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the unusual order amid what he said was a measles crisis in Brooklyn's Williamsburg section, where more than 250 people have gotten measles since September.
Officials from the Department of Health say it will impose fines of up to $1,000 on those who have not received the vaccine. A volunteer at the city's measles hotline said people who called in were being encouraged to get inoculations and report on whether they know people who recently had or now have the measles. De Blasio also warned he might temporarily close non-compliant yeshivas in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community at the heart of the outbreak, according to The New York Times.
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The year is already shaping up to be one of the worst for measles outbreaks across the nation.
Meanwhile, the Orange County Health Department said a New York City resident with confirmed measles visited Woodbury Common on March 31. There are reports of handbooks targeting the Orthodox community, arguing vaccines are not kosher or misrepresenting the danger of measles. "We've seen a large increase in the number of people vaccinated in these neighborhoods, but as Passover approaches, we need to do all we can to ensure more people get the vaccine".
In the United States, courts have supported officials in overriding individual rights to protect public health, said Dorit Reiss, professor at U.C. Hastings College of Law in San Francisco.
"There's no question that vaccines are safe, effective and life-saving".
Instead, failure to vaccinate often is due to unfounded fears among people of all religions, cultures, ethnicities, and financial means. "And the reason the city government is empowered in a public health emergency is to save lives". Those who are uninsured will pay what they can afford, de Blasio said, and those who cannot afford the vaccination will receive it free. City officials said Tuesday that 246 were children. Six of the children are siblings.
City officials said that insured adults and children will be covered.
When a case is reported, Kiernan said, public health departments work together to confirm it is measles and then interview the patient to determine where they have traveled while infectious.