Rockland County declares state of emergency over measles outbreak, bars unvaccinated from public places

ROCKLAND COUNTY, New York -- A state of emergency has been declared in one New York county, with its executive announcing that non-vaccinated minors will be barred from public places.

Effective at midnight Wednesday, March 27, anyone who is under 18 years of age and is not vaccinated against the measles will be prohibited from public places until the declaration expires in 30 days or until they receive the MMR vaccination.

Officials said law enforcement will not be out asking for vaccination records, but if someone is found in violation of the declaration, their case will be referred to the district attorney's office.

Parents will also be held accountable for their children if they are found in violation of the state of emergency.

Officials say there are no religious exemption for this, and that they have been working with area rabbis who have been encouraging their members to get vaccinated.

There are currently 151 confirmed reported cases of measles in the county, according to health officials.

Executive Ed Day said the intention of the state of emergency isn't to arrest people, but to educate the community and gain compliance.

"This is an opportunity for everyone in their community to do the right thing," Day said. "We must do everything in our power to end this outbreak and protect the health of those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons and for the children too young to be vaccinated."

Day said he recognizes there are religious holidays coming up soon, but if people immediately comply with the state of emergency and vaccinate their children now, they will still be able to enjoy Easter and Passover with their friends and family.

"We want people to be able to celebrate," he said. "We don't want to see a repeat of how this outbreak started when we saw people gathered together and then fall ill last fall. We want everyone to enjoy their friends and families, something quite difficult with the specter of measles hanging over their heads."

High-risk groups include pregnant women, children under 6 months of age, the immunocompromised or immunosuppressed, those who have not been vaccinated against the measles, and those who were born before 1957 and are immunosuppressed

Health officials say the best way to help protect yourself and the community is to remain up-to-date with measles vaccinations, and that high community vaccination rates help protect people who cannot get vaccinated because they are too young or have specific health conditions.

"We continue to encourage everyone to be up-to-date with the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine to help protect them in case of any future exposure to measles in Rockland," Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert said. "Measles is highly contagious, so anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of getting the disease, and they may spread measles to people who cannot get vaccinated because they are too young or have specific health conditions."
Copyright © 2019 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.