Nassau County has not had a reported case of the measles in the past six years and they are trying maintain that record despite a growing number of cases in the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens.
At the April 11 Village of Lawrence meeting, Deputy Mayor Michael Fragin shared a letter from Dr. Howard A. Zucker, New York State’s Commissioner of Health, regarding the importance of getting vaccinated with the recent measles outbreak in the state, especially during the time of Passover. “Passover is a time when we gather with families and friends in close contact,” Zucker wrote. “As someone who has worked very closely since the measles outbreak began, I am concerned that if we are not careful, these gatherings could serve to promote the further spread of measles among our loved ones.”
Fragin reiterated the importance in a post on his Facebook page on April 15, where he posted the letter and this statement: “The danger of measles to you and your family is real. Please vaccinate. If not, please stay home.”
The New York City Department of Health said, there has been 329 cases of the measles in Brooklyn and Queens since October, 162 cases are of children between 1- and 4-years old. A majority of that 329 are reported to be within the Orthodox Jewish community. Fragin said that he knows of residents in Lawrence who are not vaccinated. “There are synagogues in the area that don’t allow people to come if they are not vaccinated,” Fragin said. “To me, there is no excuse for people not to be vaccinated.”
Despite the recent outbreak in New York City, Nassau County Health Department spokeswoman Mary Ellen Laurain said that the county encourages children to get vaccinated by working with the school nurses to make sure there is no barrier for children to not be vaccinated.
“We also work with the Nassau University Medical Center to have children receive vaccinations there,” Laurain said. “As a county, we are fortunate to have a 98 percent vaccination rate for children who attend public schools and a 97 percent rate for children in private schools.” Laurain also noted that the percentages for religious exemptions are low in the county, with a 0.66 percent among public school children and a 1.84 percentage for children in private school. There has not been a reported measles case in Nassau County since 2013, she added.
Lawrence resident Dr. Marc Sicklick’s practice in Cedarhurst treats immunology-related conditions and allergies, he noted that not getting vaccinated does not just impact the individual, but it also impacts the people around them. “Not only are they putting themselves at risk, but they are also putting others who are less immune to diseases such as the measles at a higher risk,” he said. “Refusing to get vaccinated is not just a personal choice that affects you, it’s a choice that can severely impact others.”
Sicklick added that inaccurate information is creating falsehoods from being spread. “Measles is a disease that shouldn’t be around anymore, but it is because of the misinformation surrounding it,” he said. “Some have pointed to the autism as a reason for not getting vaccinated, when there is no evidence that exists that points to a higher chance of a child getting autism as a result of being vaccinated.”