NEW YORK – On Thursday, the Brooklyn judge ruled against a group of parents who challenged the recently introduced compulsory vaccination against measles in New York, rejecting their arguments that the city's public health authority went beyond its jurisdiction.
Judge Lawrence Knipel denied in a decision on six pages that he issued several hours after the hearing denied the petition of his parents, with which he wanted to abolish the vaccination order that was introduced last week to prevent the worst outbreak of measles that affected the city since 1991.
The judge referred to municipal health officials who advocated the order as a rare, but necessary step, to control a highly contagious disease that infected at least 329 people, mostly children from Orthodox Jewish communities in the Brooklyn district.
The other 222 cases were diagnosed elsewhere in the New York State, mostly in the predominantly ultra-Orthodox Jewish district of Rockland, northwest of Manhattan.
New York outbreaks are part of a major re-activation of measles throughout the country, with at least 555 cases confirmed in 20 countries, according to the U.S. Centers for disease control and prevention.
Health experts say that a virus that can cause serious complications and even death has spread extensively among school children whose parents did not want to be vaccinated. Most confess philosophical or religious reasons or raise concerns – which medical science reveals – that a triple measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR) could cause autism.
The judge rejected the parents' assertion that the vaccination was excessive or forcible, and concludes that it does not require forcible administration of the vaccine to those who refuse it.
He also rejected allegations in a petition in which he objected to the "clear and present danger" of the outbreak. "It is known that vaccination extinguishes the fire of infection," the judge said.
The vaccination order, which was extended this week, requires residents of some affected neighborhoods in Brooklyn to receive an MMR vaccine unless they can otherwise show immunity against measles or face a fine.
The Court brought five persons to the Supreme Court in Brooklyn, who were identified only as parents living in the affected neighborhoods. Their identities were confidential in order to protect the privacy of their children, their lawyers said.
On Thursday, they told the court that the city had crossed its own authority and that the quarantine of the infected animals would be desirable.
Robert Krakow, a lawyer for parents, estimates that only 0,0006 percent of Brooklyn and Queens residents had measles. "This is not an epidemic," he said. "It's not Ebola. There's no black goat."
Healthcare attorneys have argued that quarantine is ineffective because people who carry the virus can be infectious before symptoms occur.
The judge listed 39 cases diagnosed in Michigan that were traced to an individual traveling from the Williamsburg community at the epicenter of the Brooklyn outbreak. The increase in measles occurred with an unvaccinated child who was infected when visiting Israel, where it is also a highly contagious virus.
The number of measles cases in the world rose almost four times to 112,163 in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the same period last year, the World Health Organization said.