New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a public health emergency Tuesday and ordered vaccinations for some of the city's residents amid a measles outbreak concentrated in one neighborhood's Orthodox Jewish community.
Residents living in the Williamsburg zip codes of 11205, 11206, 11211, and 11249 must be vaccinated against measles, mumps, and rubella or they face the possibility of fines that can reach up to $1000. They have been spreading risky misinformation based on fake science. Most of the children were unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.
Ordering people to be vaccinated without their consent is "an extreme measure which is not provided for in the law and raises civil liberties concerns about forced medical treatment", Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said in a written statement.
In the city alone, 285 cases have been confirmed - 246 of which have been in children.
A total of 465 cases across 19 states have been confirmed this year, according to the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Video: Despite evidence that vaccines are safe and effective, the anti-vaccination movement is gaining strength.
"As a pediatrician, I know the MMR vaccine is safe and effective", said New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot.
"There is a campaign with very intentional efforts to give misinformation", Herminia Palacio, the city's deputy mayor for public health, said at the news conference. Those who are uninsured will pay what they can afford, de Blasio said, and those who cannot afford the vaccination will receive it for free.
Since 1963, "widespread use of measles vaccine has led to a greater than 99% reduction in measles cases compared with the pre-vaccine era", the CDC said.
The United States measles vaccination program began in 1963.
This comes after the city threatened to shut down religious schools and day care services in the community that allowed unvaccinated children in.
The Brooklyn outbreak has been tied to an unvaccinated child who contracted the disease during a trip to Israel, which has recently seen a high incidence of measles, the Washington Post reported.