Rockland County, NY – Hoping to contain the spread of the measles in the Monsey area after 11 cases of the disease were officially confirmed, the Rockland County Department of Health sent a letter today to schools attended by the infected children informing them that unvaccinated students must remain at home until the danger of potential exposure has passed.
Rockland County health commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert was authorized by the state health commissioner Wednesday night to institute measures to protect county schoolchildren.
In order to prevent any additional potential exposure in schools, all children who are not immune to the measles, even those who religious or medical exemptions on file, will not be allowed to attend school throughout the three week long incubation period which began on October 12th and ends on November 3rd.
John Lyon, director of strategic communications for Rockland County executive Ed Day, declined to identify which schools, or how many, received the letter from Dr. Ruppert but said that all of the schools in question have current lists of unvaccinated students as required by law.
Schools that fail to adhere to today’s directive could face fines and other penalties, but Lyon said that based on past experience he expects no compliance issues.
“We have received nothing but cooperation thus far as we are all working to ensure the safety of the students,” Lyon told VIN News.
In her letter, Ruppert advised parents of unvaccinated or under-vaccinated children to see their physicians as soon as possible in order to minimize the time that they will be prohibited from attending school.
“We want these affected students to be able to their places of learning and encourage these schools to take any appropriate steps available to allow students to continue their coursework from home,” said Dr. Ruppert.
Multiple Monsey yeshivos sent letters home to their parent body today, informing them of the new regulations instituted by the DOH and urging parents of unvaccinated children to reconsider their decision in light of the measles outbreak.
As previously reported on VIN News (http://bit.ly/2yPLwdl), in addition to the eleven cases of measles reported in the Monsey area, six more have been confirmed in Williamsburg. All are believed to be tied to a measles outbreak in Jerusalem triggered by unvaccinated children.
There were long lines this afternoon at the first of two free MMR vaccine clinics held by the Rockland County DOH at the Community Outreach Center in Monsey. While some brought infants who are being immunized earlier than the usually recommended 12 months because of the outbreak, others came with multiple children, including one mother who came with five children.
Rockland County will be holding a second free MMR vaccine clinic tomorrow morning from 9:30 to 11:30 at the Pascack Community Center in Nanuet. Lyon said that the DOH is confident that it has an ample supply of the vaccine for all those who choose to attend the two clinics.
DOH personnel will be working closely with the affected yeshivos to ensure that all unvaccinated students remain at home throughout the exposure period.
Those who did not receive a first dose of the MMR vaccine by today will not be allowed in school until November 3rd. Kindergarteners through twelfth graders who have received only one of the two required doses of the MMR vaccine by today can only return to school after receiving their second dose, or if they are not re-vaccinated on November 3rd.
Pre-kindergarteners with one dose of the MMR vaccine are considered to be immune, but a second dose of the vaccine is recommended.
Should additional cases of measles be confirmed in any school, any student in that school who has not received their initial dose of the MMR vaccine will have to remain at home for an additional three week period.
Those who received the first dose of the vaccine from today onward will be required to get a second dose 28 days after their initial inoculation.