THE MEASLES OUTBREAK—TIME FOR DECISIVE ACTION, JOINT OUTREACH

BY TOWN OF ORANGETOWN SUPERVISOR CHRIS DAY

On Monday, we were out of the formula that our newborn Wyatt had just switched to. Amazon’s delivery was a day away and literally the only store in the area that had a supply of it was Target in the Spring Valley Shopping Center.

Thankfully, I was able to take a lunch break, hop in the car with Jenn and the kids, and head over, so only I had to run into Target to get the formula. Otherwise, though, we’ve done everything to avoid public spaces with Wyatt due to his being too young for vaccines yet. He would have been in Target during the exact period the measles exposure there occurred—we would have had no choice, because he needed the formula.

I was able to take that lunch, but what if I hadn’t been able to? And how many parents find themselves stuck in situations like that in Rockland, fearful for their baby or immuno-compromised child because some people are choosing to be reckless and anti-science?

We need to fix this problem. We deserve to be able to safely travel this county and our businesses deserve for customers to have yet another reason not to shop in person.

I fully support the pieces of state legislation pending to remove all exemptions from vaccinations, except medical, and allowing 14-year-olds to get a vaccine even if their parents don’t agree. I also support the Rockland County Health Department keeping kids whose parents refuse to vaccinate them from attending school until they do.

Further, I strongly believe it is time for the Rockland County Department of Health to declare a public health emergency. This outbreak outpaces ones where such a declaration has been made in other areas.

We also need to deal with this directly, but without malice. The fact is that this outbreak has originated in, and is contained almost entirely to, the ultra-Orthodox and Hasidic communities here in Rockland. Members of those communities need to hear directly from their political and religious leaders that they need to get vaccinated, and those communities need to organize it to make it happen.

That’s why, though there’s certainly never been any love lost between us, Legislator Aron Wieder and I have agreed to record a joint message together in both English and Yiddish, urging both of our communities to get vaccinated, and to launch a joint campaign of awareness and access to vaccines. We need to keep this positive and jointly focused on keeping the immuno-compromised and newborns in any community in this county SAFE.

We can’t allow some to attack the ultra-Orthodox community over this, but importantly, we also can’t put our heads in the sand and ignore the problem simply to avoid controversy.

We need to do this TOGETHER or more people will get sick, and eventually a child will die.