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Five anonymous parents recently filed a lawsuit in Brooklyn Supreme Court against the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and its commissioner, Dr. Oxiris Barbot. At issue is an emergency order making measles vaccinations mandatory, which opponents claim violates their religious beliefs.
Clearly, this is a highly sensitive issue, especially since the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn has been hit quite hard by this latest measles outbreak. Across New York City, just shy of 300 cases have been reported, many of those in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. However, based on prior case law, the Brooklyn Supreme Court has compelling reason should it rule against the parents in this case.
Essence - Suit - Question - Beliefs - Safety
In essence, the suit touches on the difficult question of when personal religious beliefs are outweighed by public safety concerns. According to the New York Post:
Mayor de Blasio on Tuesday declared a public health emergency over an outbreak of measles in Williamsburg and ordered mandatory vaccinations in the Brooklyn neighborhood under the threat of $1,000 fines — and even the possibility of forcible injections.
Move - People - Area - ZIP - Codes
The unprecedented move, which covers more than 212,000 people living in an area covered by four ZIP codes, followed the diagnoses of 285 cases of measles in the city — mostly in Williamsburg — since October.
Under the order signed by Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot, everyone who lives, works or attends school within the 11205, 11206, 11211 and 11249 ZIP codes and isn’t already immune to measles must be vaccinated within 48 hours.
Health - Department - Inspectors - Jewish - Schools
Health Department inspectors will also visit Jewish religious schools to make sure that yeshiva students who haven’t been vaccinated ‘are being appropriately excluded [from school] under this order,’ Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services Herminia Palacio said.
According to the Post, opponents to this order allege that the measles outbreak isn’t serious enough for the quick 48-hour vaccination requirement, since no...
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