NEW YORK (UPI) — A New York district judge dismissed a lawsuit Thursday challenging an emergency declaration in New York City that requires residents and people who work in neighborhoods affected by a measles outbreak to receive mandatory vaccinations or face fines.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency April 9 in response to a measles outbreak in the Williamsburg district of Brooklyn to prevent the situation from worsening.
“There’s no question that vaccines are safe, effective and life-saving. I urge everyone, especially those in affected areas to get their MMR vaccines to protect their children, families and communities,” de Blasio said during the declaration’s announcement, referring to the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine by its technical name.
The declaration was made due to New York City experiencing its worst measles outbreak in years with 329 cases of the measles confirmed since October.
Meanwhile, the Orthodox Jewish communities in Williamsburg have been at the outbreak’s “epicenter” with 285 diagnoses as of April 8, according to Judge Lawrence Knipel’s
The emergency declaration orders residents and workers within designated Williamsburg zip codes who have not received the MMR vaccine to do so or face a $1,000 fine.
The declaration was then followed by a group of anonymous petitioners and parents of unvaccinated children filing an injunction against it, calling it “arbitrary and capricious and contrary to law.”
The petitioners claimed the preventative measures were disproportionate to the actual circumstances while infringing on one’s rights to autonomy, informed consent and free exercise of religion.
But Knipel dismissed the case Thursday, saying that the complainants did not prove their claim that the declaration was disproportionate to the situation, saying they failed “provide any basis for this opinion. As such, this unsupported, bald-faced opinion cannot be credited by this court.”
Concerning their claim to religious freedom, Knipel countered that the complaints failed to provide an affidavit of a religious official to support their opinion.
Finally, on their moral objections against forced vaccination, Knipel said, “a fireman need not obtain the informed consent of the owner before extinguishing a house fire. Vaccination is known to extinguish the fire of contagion.”
Meanwhile, the New York City Health Department closed four more schools and fined three people Thursday for failing to comply with the emergency order while allowing a school that was forced to close Tuesday for failing to provide its students access to vaccination and attendance records to reopen, NBC New York reported.
There have been no deaths reported from the outbreak, but there have been 25 hospitalizations and six people have been admitted to the intensive care unit.
Reporting by Darryl Coote
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