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New York Officials Ban Unvaccinated Children from School Amid Measles Outbreak

U.S. News & World Report logo U.S. News & World Report 12/7/2018 Alexa Lardieri
Infectious disease vaccine.: Health officials said in a letter Thursday that children in Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn cannot return to their schools until they have gotten the appropriate measles vaccinations. © (Hailshadow/GETTY Images) Health officials said in a letter Thursday that children in Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn cannot return to their schools until they have gotten the appropriate measles vaccinations.

Amid a measles outbreak, New York City health officials are banning unvaccinated children from attending schools in some Brooklyn zip codes.

As of Wednesday, there had been 39 cases of confirmed measles in Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn since October, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said. The child with the first confirmed case of the virus was unvaccinated and had contracted measles while on a trip to Israel. Additional unvaccinated children in the area also traveled to Israel and contracted measles while abroad. Israel is currently facing an outbreak of the disease.

A letter from the city's health department sent to schools and families in Brooklyn on Thursday stated that effective from Friday, "every student attending a yeshiva … who is not vaccinated with the required number of doses of measles-mumps-rubella vaccine will not be permitted to attend schools," even if they have a religious or medical exemption for the vaccine.

A yeshiva is an Orthodox Jewish institution that focuses on religious schooling.

The notice is in effect for the Brooklyn communities of Williamsburg, Mapleton, Broadway Triangle, Kensington, Sunset Park, Borough Park, Bensonhurst, Midwood and Marine Park. It applies to students attending childcare programs that serve the orthodox community, yeshivas with a child care program and yeshivas with any grades from pre-k to 12th.

"Students cannot return to school until they are appropriately vaccinated, or until the outbreak is declared over, even if they have an approved religious or medical exemption to measles immunization," the letter states.

Children already sick with the measles must stay home from daycare and school until five days after the onset of the measles rash.

Measles, which is preventable through two doses of a vaccine, is highly contagious and can be fatal. Spread through the air by breathing, coughing or sneezing, the virus can lead to swelling of the brain, pneumonia, permanent vision loss and severe dehydration. Babies and young child with weakened immune systems are especially vulnerable.

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