ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – The fight against the worst measles outbreak in the United States in 27 years has a new front: the summer camp.
Vaccinations have become mandatory this summer for campers and staff in several northern New York City counties that fill each year with children from the Orthodox Jewish community hardest hit by measles.
Ulster County has imposed measles vaccine or evidence of immunity in all day camps and overnight camps, becoming the last county in the region to impose vaccination requirements. Rockland County has announced a similar order this month, following the mandates of Sullivan and Orange counties.
"We need to make sure that our t is crossed and that we are sprinkled to make sure that all these vaccination records are well recorded and have been finely worked to make sure everything is in compliance," he said. said Rabbi Hanoch Hecht, of Camp Emunah, in Ulster County. , which hosts many girls from a Chabad community in Brooklyn's Crown Heights.
"In the past, where we had accepted religious exemptions for certain things," said Hecht, who has his own blood checked for immunity, "now we can not."
Treatment, preventive care and measles vaccinations around the world
A child was vaccinated against measles by a family doctor on April 16, 2018 in the Romanian capital, Bucharest.
Measles still leaves young victims in Romania, where nearly 40 children have died in an epidemic, many of which accuse parents of being misled by alarmist stories that it is dangerous to vaccinate them. About 12,000 people have contracted measles since the end of 2016 in the second poorest country in the European Union, of which 46 have died. Of the deaths, 39 were children under three years old who had not yet been vaccinated, making Romania one of the countries most affected by the measles epidemic in Europe. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel MIHAILESCU (The photo credit should read: DANIEL MIHAILESCU / AFP / Getty Images)
A family doctor is preparing a measles vaccine during a consultation held on April 16, 2018 in the Romanian capital, Bucharest. – Measles still has young lives in Romania, where nearly 40 children died in an epidemic, many of which accused parents of being misled by alarmist stories that it is dangerous to vaccinate them. About 12,000 people have contracted measles since the end of 2016 in the second poorest country in the European Union, of which 46 have died. Of the deaths, 39 were children under three years old who had not yet been vaccinated, making Romania one of the countries most affected by the measles epidemic in Europe. (Photo by Daniel MIHAILESCU / AFP) (The photo credit should read: DANIEL MIHAILESCU / AFP / Getty Images)
A nurse was seen vaccinating schoolchildren at her school in Lhokseumawe on August 4, 2018 in Aceh, Indonesia. Vaccination against measles and rubella for Indonesian schoolchildren is part of the Indonesian government's health program aimed at ensuring the physical immunity of two dangerous diseases, rubella and measles among Indonesian children. (Photo by Fachrul Reza / NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Artists dressed in superhero costumes comfort a primary school student while receiving a German measles vaccine, also called rubella, in Pekanbaru, Riau province, on August 1, 2018, as part of the program. health of Indonesian governments to fight against childhood diseases. (Photo by WAHYUDI / AFP) (Photo credit should match WAHYUDI / AFP / Getty Images)
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A Venezuelan woman is vaccinated against measles in Cucuta, Colombia, on March 21, 2018, at the Simon Bolivar International Brigade, on the border with Venezuela. / AFP PHOTO / Schneyder Mendoza (The photo credit is SCHNEYDER MENDOZA / AFP / Getty Images)
The Venezuelan, Yan Manuel, receives free measles vaccine offered by a volunteer, after presenting his identity card at the border of Pacaraima, in the state of Roraima, Brazil, August 19, 2018. REUTERS / Nacho Doce
A member of the Free Revolutionary Police carried out a measles vaccine inspection in the Idlib countryside in the south of the country on 17 September 2014. Fifteen children died after being vaccinated against measles in the north of the country. Syria, stopping the program, said Wednesday humanitarian workers. a tragedy that could undermine confidence in health services in areas controlled by the opposition. The Free Revolutionary Police is a recently launched unarmed police movement that works in areas controlled by the Free Syrian Army to solve daily problems in Idlib, said the group. Photo taken on 17 September 2014. REUTERS / Khalil Ashawi (SYRIA – Tags: CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT HEALTH)
A girl receives measles immunization drops at a health center in the BASECO complex in Tondo, Manila, September 3, 2014. Philippine President Benigno Aquino said that on September 11, 2014, between 11 and 13 million people in the country were at risk of measles, polio and rubella (German measles), and asked the public to cooperate to eradicate preventable diseases, at the launch Monday of a national mass immunization campaign against measles and polio, local media reported. REUTERS / Erik De Castro (PHILIPPINES – Tags: SOCIETY OF HEALTH)
A vial of measles, mumps and rubella vaccines as well as an information leaflet are visible at the Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts on February 26, 2015. REUTERS / Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES – Tags: HEALTH)
Rowan Walters, four years old, is being held by her mother while she received an MMR injection at the pediatric outpatient department of Morriston Hospital in Swansea, South Wales, USA. April 6, 2013. Following an increase in the number of confirmed measles cases in South Wales, parents in the region were urged to vaccinate their children and hospitals in the region opened Saturday clinics. home, local media reported. REUTERS / Rebecca Naden (BRITAIN – Tags: SOCIETY HEALTH)
A health worker in Ciudad Juarez, on the Mexican border with El Paso, Texas, distributes leaflets to passing motorists and people as part of a measles prevention program on February 16, 2015. The California public health officials confirmed three more measles cases in an outbreak that began in late December, bringing to 113 the total number of people who would have been infected in the state. Health officials in Arizona, where seven cases of measles have been documented, said the outbreak would likely be over in this state if no other infections were reported over the weekend. Across the United States, more than 150 people have been diagnosed with measles, most of them being linked to an epidemic that, according to the authorities, would have started when an infected person from the country was diagnosed with the disease. visited Disneyland at the end of December. REUTERS / Jose Luis Gonzalez (MEXICO – Tags: SOCIETY HEALTH IMMIGRATION)
The state of New York requires that vacation camps keep vaccination records for all campers, but do not prevent children from attending them if they do not get vaccinated against measles.
Children are still required to be vaccinated against measles in New York schools, and governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law Thursday removing an exemption for children whose parents oppose the vaccination on religious grounds.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that as of June 1, more than 1,000 cases of measles had been reported in the United States since the beginning of the year, compared with less than 100 cases 10 years ago. Most of these cases have been diagnosed in ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Rockland County in the suburbs.
The CDC recommends that all people over one year of age be vaccinated, except for people with the disease while they were children. Those who have had measles are immune.
The vaccine, available in the 1960s, is considered safe and extremely effective, paving the way for the virtual elimination of measles in the United States in 2000. But it has experienced a resurgence on several occasions, including 667 in 2014.
Hecht and others pointed out that vaccinations were widely accepted by most members of the Orthodox community, recalling the rabbis in Brooklyn and Rockland County who claimed that it was a relatively small group of influential parents. by anti-vaccination propaganda – and not by religious teachings – that had resisted vaccinations.
The Orthodox Union said it had already demanded up-to-date vaccinations, including the MMR vaccine, for its 37 summer programs.
"Most leaders and rabbis have adopted the approach that vaccination is mandatory," Hecht said.
Health officials in New York have taken a harsh approach, making measles immunization mandatory for all people living in the Brooklyn district at the epicenter of the epidemic, fining people for failing to be vaccinated and closing 12 schools for excluding staff and students could not document immunity. The city announced Thursday the last two closures.
Now, as schools prepare to close for the summer, the fight continues in the Catskills and the Hudson Valley.
Sullivan County is located in the heart of the traditional Borscht Belt, and the region of lakes full of attractions still attracts thousands of people to its camps and bungalow colonies every summer. Of the 170 state-regulated camps in the county, 139 are Orthodox Jewish camps.
"We are attracting such a population from New York, where this measles outbreak was," said Sullivan County spokesman Dan Hust. "It was considered prudent and wise."
Everyone is not in agreement. Orders from Sullivan and Orange counties have been challenged in state courts by parents of different religious denominations. However, civil rights lawyer Michael Sussman said Friday that he thought these cases should be removed as New York removed religious exemptions.
Several camp administrators interviewed by the Associated Press did not object to compulsory vaccination.
"This is not a problem for us," said Yoel Landau, director of Camp Rav Tov, a camp for Hasidic boys in Monticello. Landau said that New York schoolchildren participating in the camp should have already been vaccinated because of the city 's order in April.
Rabbi Dovid Teichman, director of Camp Govoah, which hosts Orthodox campers in rural Greene County, said staff members "analyzed every request to make sure everyone was vaccinated".
"I can not put anyone in danger," he said. "So, if I find someone on the list who does not vaccinate, I will not take them to camp."
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