A New York suburb has declared a measles-related state of emergency, forcing a ban on unvaccinated children from public spaces. Officials in Rockland County have instituted the ban on unvaccinated children under the age of 18 from being in public places.
While there is no practical way of enforcing the measure, officials say the point of the ban is to make sure parents know just how serious the measles outbreak is in their county. There have been about 150 confirmed cases of measles in Rockland County since last year.
According to NBC News, Rockland County Executive Ed Day cited a state law that says it gives local officials the power to ban unvaccinated individuals in the event that it might be other residents in immediate danger.
Day said in a press conference, “Effective at the stroke of midnight, Wednesday, March 27, anyone who is under 18 years of age and unvaccinated against the measles will be barred from public places until this declaration expires in 30 days or until they receive the MMR vaccination.”
The ban will be imposed on public spaces that include countywide schools, public parks and playgrounds, stores and shopping malls, churches and places of worship and public transit systems such as buses, metros, and trains. The local police in Rockland County won’t be able to ask parents for documentation verifying their child’s vaccination. However, they will enforce the ban, should a parent reportedly allow their unvaccinated child into a public space.
Day also added that if a parent is found to be in violation, their case will be referred to the district attorney’s office and they will be held accountable.
Although considered extremely rare, measles is a viral infection that can be fatal for young children, even though it is easily preventable with a vaccine. About 188 cases of measles were reported back in 2015. The disease can be spread through coughing or sneezing. Some symptoms to look out for include a fever, a dry cough of a runny nose, along with a rash that can spread all over the body. It’s also considered a highly contagious virus.
There is no treatment available to get rid of an infection, but over-the-counter children’s medicine such as fever reducers of vitamin A can help reduce the symptoms. It’s also been noted that measles symptoms usually don’t appear until about two weeks after a child has been exposed.