We are in the midst of an outbreak of measles with multiple confirmed cases within Rockland County. The challenge of this situation demands swift, immediate and comprehensive action. I can happily report to you that we are meeting this challenge head on.
We have taken steps never heard of before here in Rockland. Last week, in coordination with the New York State Department of Health, our local Commissioner of Health, Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert was designated with the authority to order schools to take appropriate steps to protect the students at schools within Rockland.
A letter was sent to the affected schools on October 18, 2018, requiring that students within the schools who are not vaccinated must stay home. The ONLY schools affected by this letter are those that were attended by students with confirmed cases of measles. These under- or un-immunized students must stay home for 21 days after the last measles exposure.
In short, this action was taken to protect the children who aren’t immunized. We removed them from harm’s way, and they can return after being immunized or when the 21-day exposure window ends. Personnel from the Rockland County Department of Health (DOH) have been assisting the affected schools with daily monitoring to ensure unvaccinated children are staying home.
In addition, our DOH has held multiple free MMR clinics and will continue to do so as needed until this public health crisis has been beaten. Call 845-364-2512 for more information about upcoming clinics.
The efforts of our DOH have been well received and expanded upon by community based health care organizations. The Refuah Health Center has administered over 1600 MMR shots and we have seen immediate cooperation by many parents in both complying with the Health order and getting the complete series of MMR vaccine for their youngsters.
The goal here is to prevent the spread of measles as much as possible so that these affected students to be able to quickly return to their places of learning. We have encouraged these schools to take appropriate steps to allow students to continue their lessons from home.
We are taking action, coordinating with the NYS DOH and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to stay ahead of this outbreak as best we can. They have both sent personnel to assist us in investigating and monitoring any cases we receive and I thank them for stepping up during this outbreak.
I encourage anyone concerned about measles to check if you are up-to-date on your vaccinations and to contact their healthcare providers directly. For more information about measles, call the New York State Department of Health toll free Measles Information Line at (888) 364-4837.
The quick and deliberate actions we have taken all point to one simple goal; minimizing the spread of this outbreak while immunizing as many as possible. That is our path through this crisis, and we will follow through.