Preschool Program Closed Over Measles Outbreak

The United Talmudical Academy refused to furnish government required medical records.

The City of New York shut the doors on a preschool program at the United Talmudical Academy , a Brooklyn yeshiva, on April 15 for violating a specific order issued by the Health Department. As per the order, the United Talmudical Academy was to provide attendance and medical records if there is a measles outbreak. This preschool caters to about 250 students aged from three to five years. The Williamsburg institution is the first one to be shut down by the city. New York City is trying to control the worst measles outbreak suffered by the United States during the last few decades.

Bill de Blasio, the Mayor of New York City, declared measles a real public health emergency during the second week of April and ordered compulsory vaccinations for the residents of the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn, one of the epicenters of the disease spread. The United Talmudical Academy reportedly did not offer the city its records, leaving the city authorities with no choice but to shut down the institution. According to the city reports, about 23 yeshivas and child care programs have violated the orders given by NYC to exclude all unvaccinated children. Oxiris Barbot, the NYC Health Commissioner, pointed out that it is crucial for all schools and child care programs to maintain accurate immunization records and they should be up-to-date as well. The official continued to say this is the method to ensure schools are keeping the unvaccinated students and staff out of the child care centers so the outbreak ends. New York is especially vulnerable, with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting 77 out of a total 90 cases during the third week of March were from NYC. The Williamsburg area is home to a significant Orthodox Jewish population. A few of them have declined to vaccinate children. This resulted in the tight-knit community being vulnerable to this contagious disease.

The measles started when unvaccinated people came back to the United States after celebrating Sukkot in Israel. Sukkot is an important Jewish harvest festival. The preschool closure has given rise to tensions in the extremely orthodox community over anti-Semitic backlash. Several members of the community are already vaccinated, and mostly rabbis have requested their followers to vaccinate their respective children. The problem is that the response of the city towards the outbreak has resulted in several vaccine skeptics to be more adamant in opposing immunization.

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