What Are Your Rights? A Recent Measles Outbreak in New York City Leads to a Health Emergency
Greg: Well, it’s been in the news a lot lately. There’s been a growing number of people who are openly against certain vaccines. They are refusing those vaccines. And now, we’re seeing a resurgence of illness thought to be eliminated at one time. A recent measles outbreak in New York City has resulted now in a health emergency there. Here, to help us examine this issue is the managing partner, Paul Harding from the law firm of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti. Paul, thank you so much for being with us.
Paul: Thank you, Greg.
Greg: So Mayor de Blasio in New York has declared a public emergency. Several ZIP Codes of the city are, you know, declared hot zones basically. Fill us in on what’s going on there.
Paul: So we got the Williamsburg area in Brooklyn, right? So they’re saying, “Listen. If you are living there, you have to get inoculated for measles.” In fact, if you’re under the age of 18, and you’re attending school, they’re saying, “Schools, don’t let these children in or you’re gonna face potential shutdown.”
Greg: So, you know, it’s a wild situation if you think about it. There’s much precedent for this. I mean, this, you know, we’re seeing in other parts of the country, even not too far away.
Paul: Yeah. So, you know, it’s kind of happening in live time. Rockland County, just about 25 miles north of the city. Last month, they came and said, “Look. It’s a state of emergency. We got a problem. Kids not gonna be able to go to school. Schools, you’ve to have to enforce this. Parents. If you don’t get your child inoculated, you’re gonna have a fine and potentially six months in jail,” but they fought that in court.
Greg: Right. So what recourse do those parents have who don’t want their kids vaccinated, and what recourse do the parents have who are afraid because of children who are mingling with their children?
Paul: Well, the children who are mingling with the children, who are not vaccinated, don’t really have a lot of options right now, other than what’s in place, right? They’re trying to get these vaccinations occurring. What we found, Lower Court said, “Listen. It’s not a state of emergency. We’re not saying whether state of emergency would allow you to mandate theses vaccinations or to eliminate these kids from school. But we’re saying 232 cases was not enough.” So it’s working its way through the court system. I think we’ll know more in the weeks ahead. And, of course, as New York City move yesterday is gonna make some splash.
Greg: Right. Now, I know Rockland County, they were banning unvaccinated children in public places. How do they enforce that? Is that even enforceable?
Paul: It’s not enforceable, but when you just go to the parent and say, “If you do this, it’s a fine. If you are found guilty, you could go to jail.” It’s gonna be one of these… Yeah, they’re not going to be stopping at the front mall and then Crossgates, right? Could you imagine going to Crossgates and saying, “You gotta come. Show us your vaccination report. It’s just not gonna happen.
Greg: It’s a thorny issue. We’re gonna see a lot more of it, right?
Greg: All right, Paul Harding; Martin, Harding & Mazzotti. Thanks so much for being with us.
Paul: Thanks, Greg.
Greg: And sorting things out for us a little bit.