NYC measles outbreak is over, city officials say

During the measles outbreak in New York City, hundreds of children were diagnosed with the disease, city officials said.
During the measles outbreak in New York City, hundreds of children were diagnosed with the disease, city officials said. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Drew Angerer

The emergency order requiring some Brooklyn residents to get a measles vaccination was rescinded Tuesday, as the city declared an end to an outbreak of the disease

The outbreak, which started in October 2018, resulted in more than 650 confirmed cases of measles, primarily among children in Orthodox Jewish communities. Mayor Bill de Blasio issued an emergency order on April 9, requiring people in Williamsburg and surrounding neighborhoods to be vaccinated. 

Since the order, more than 15,500 doses of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine have been administered, according to city officials. 

No new cases of measles have been reported since mid-July, the city Health Department said. Measles outbreaks are typically declared over when two incubation periods, or 42 days, have passed since the last infectious day of the last person diagnosed with the disease.

“Ending the measles outbreak required extensive collaboration with community organizations and Jewish leaders,” de Blasio said in a statement. “They helped encourage vaccinations and achieve record immunization levels in parts of Brooklyn.”

The city spent more than $6 million on efforts to end the outbreak, passing out material about vaccinations, robocalling residents, publishing ads and hosting community events, among other actions.

The outbreak was the largest in the city in nearly three decades, the city said.

Among the 650 people diagnosed with the disease, 52 were hospitalized and 16 were admitted to intensive care, the Health Department said. There were about 470 cases in Williamsburg, 120 in Borough Park and the remaining cases were in other Brooklyn neighborhoods and in Queens. About 80% of the cases were diagnosed in people under 18 years old.

While the emergency order was rescinded, the state recently passed a law ending religious, or any non-medical, exemptions for required vaccinations for children. 

Health officials warned that the threat of the disease remains since there are outbreaks in other parts of the country and world. 

“Our best defense against renewed transmission is having a well immunized city,” Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot said in a statement. 

New Yorkers can call 311 for a list of facilities that can provide the MMR vaccine at low or no cost, the city said.

More from around NYC