Hundreds of doses of the MMR vaccine have been administered in Rockland County, New York since aon Tuesday, officials said in a press conference Friday morning. The county made waves by imposing a 30-day ban on unvaccinated children in public spaces, believed to be the first such action nationwide.
Since the outbreak began in October, more than 17,400have been administered. That number increased by almost 500 in just the last couple of days, County Executive Ed Day said Friday.
There have been 157 confirmed cases ofin the suburban New York county, and Commissioner of Health Dr. Patricia Ruppert said the actual number is likely higher. "There's a great deal more from what we hear in the community," she said. "Not all cases are being reported, which is unfortunate."
The outbreak began in the fall when seven international travelers who had the measles virus visited the area for a Jewish holiday, mostly in ultra-Orthodox communities.
In an effort to prevent further spread of the illness, the state of emergency prohibits unvaccinated children under the age of 18 from going out in public spaces for 30 days. These spaces include shopping centers, businesses, restaurants, schools, and places of worship. Parents of children found in violation of the ban could be subject to a $500 penalty or six months in jail. Those who are medically unable to get vaccinated are exempt.
One dose of the MMR vaccine — which protects against measles, mumps and rubella — is 93 percent effective, and two doses are about 97 percent effective. Herd immunity, when at least 90-95 percent of the population is vaccinated, helps protect infants and people with weakened immune systems who are unable to get the vaccine.
Serious complications from measles can include pneumonia or encephalitis (brain swelling), leading to blindness or deafness, and in some cases death.