Brooklyn, NY – A Chasidic woman who received a late night visit from city sheriffs for not vaccinating her infant against the measles told a health department hearing officer that some members of the Jewish community may not even be aware of an emergency order that bumped up immunization schedules for the MMR vaccine by six months.
The Daily News (http://bit.ly/2XvMBFT) reported that the unidentified Williamsburg mother of nine was handed a $1,000 Department of Health summons at approximately 10 PM on April 30th for not vaccinating her eight month old son against the measles as required under an emergency order enacted in mid-April to stem the current outbreak. As previously reported on VIN News (http://bit.ly/2XB7Iqf), the Department of Health began issuing summonses in late April to parents in targeted areas who failed to comply with the order to immunize their children.
Speaking at a hearing held on Wednesday, the mother said that she was unaware that under the emergency order issued by Mayor Bill de Blasio, babies need to receive their first dose of the MMR vaccine at six months old, instead of the usually recommended 12 months. The baby boy was flagged by the DOH as unvaccinated when the mother took him to the pediatrician for an unrelated medical matter along with another of her children, who had been exposed to the measles.
“I had no idea there was a new law, how would I know?” said the woman. “If they know they’re dealing with the Orthodox Jewish community, they should know that we don’t watch TV and most of us don’t have internet connection.”
The woman said that her young daughter opened the door on the night in question and was frightened to find herself face to face with uniformed law enforcement officers.
“My kids were all terrified, you’d think that I’d have committed the worst crime,” said the mother. “It’s ridiculous that you have sheriffs knocking on your door in the middle of the night.”
A DOH spokesperson said that the sheriff’s department has the authority to determine when and how to serve summonses.
209 parents have been cited to date for failing to immunize their children after the emergency order went into effect, with over 90 cases dismissed after parents provided proof of immunization. Yesterday’s hearing was among the first to be heard by the DOH, with hearing officer Didi Scaff suggesting that she would dismiss the summons after seeing proof that the baby boy had been vaccinated.
The child was immunized last week. His vaccination had been postponed by his doctor because he had been ill intermittently during May and June and the MMR vaccine is only considered to be safe for those in good health.
A complaint filed by the city against a second Chasidic couple that also appeared at the Wednesday hearing was withdrawn after the parents provided proof that their child had been immunized.