Rockland County in New York has issued an order barring minors who are not vaccinated against measles from public places for the next thirty days. The order, issued by county executive Ed Day, bars anyone unvaccinated who is under 18 years from public places until the declaration expires at the end of thirty days or until they receive the MMR vaccination. Officials say there are no religious exemptions to the order.
According to officials, law enforcement will not be patrolling the streets or asking for vaccination records. Instead, the prohibition will be enforced retroactively and if someone is found in violation, their case will be referred to the district attorney’s office. Parents could face up to six months in jail or a fine of up to $500, or both, for allowing their unvaccinated children in public spaces.
According to reports, public places are defined in the emergency declaration as “a place where more than 10 persons are intended to congregate for purposes such as civic, governmental, social, or religious functions, or for recreation or shopping, or for food or drink consumption, or awaiting transportation, or for daycare or educational purposes, or for medical treatment.” Public transportation vehicles are also included in the prohibition, but not taxi or livery vehicles.
Measles is among the most contagious of the infectious diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 90 percent of nonimmunized people who are exposed to the virus will become infected. The virus can survive for up to two hours nearly anywhere an infected person has breathed, coughed, or sneezed.
According to health officials, the best way to stop the spread of the disease through a community is for that community to have a vaccination rate of 92 to 95 percent. In Rockland County, which has a population of roughly 300,000, only 72.9 percent of residents between the ages of 1 and 18 are vaccinated. The outbreak has been largely concentrated in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities, where vaccination rates tend to be lower and anti-vaccination literature has spread.