New York City’s measles outbreak started in October when six people in Brooklyn were diagnosed with the disease. Today, the Health Department reported 17 new cases of measles this week. Fifteen of those are in one neighborhood — Williamsburg. Camille Petersen has more.
PETERSEN 1: Colby lives in Williamsburg and has two kids. She actually didn’t know about the measles outbreak. But she’s not surprised.
I imagine from people I have met that there are some anti-vaxxers, people who are
against vaccination, living in the Williamsburg neighborhood. (0:08)
PETERSEN 2: She’s thinking of the anti-vaxxers that get the national spotlight — highly educated, young parents who are afraid vaccinating their kids will cause health problems like autism.
But in Williamsburg, measles is hitting a different group. The Orthodox Jewish Community. Which resists vaccination for religious reasons.
Stephen Morse studies infectious diseases at Columbia University. He says measles often spreads quickly in communities that object to vaccines.
It’s about ten times more catching than the flu. And on the average we would say
that an infected individual would infect about 15 to 20 other people. (0:18)
PETERSEN: So once one person is infected, it spreads EASILY. Through coughs, sneezes, and air particles.
But it won’t spread if nearly everyone is vaccinated.
It kind of hits a wall there. (0:03)
PETERSEN: Morse says there are two things the city should focus on. First, outreach.
Especially with the religious leaders who are very influential in those
communities. Finding out what the objections are and basically talking to them about the risk of measles. (0:14)
PETERSEN: And then, vaccination.
Intensive efforts to set up immunization campaigns, places where people can go
and get immunizations. (0:09)
PETERSEN: The city’s health department issued new recommendations today for doctors serving Orthodox Jewish patients. Give kids between 6 and 11 months old an EXTRA dose of vaccine.
But Danielle, a mom of four who lives in Williamsburg, thinks the city should do more.
They need to make everyone get vaccinated. It don’t matter what religion you are.
If it’s putting everybody’s health in danger, everybody needs to be vaccinated.
PETERSEN: City Council members representing Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods are encouraging everyone in those areas to get vaccinated.
Camille Petersen, Columbia Radio News.