(New City, NY) -- To help combat the record number of measles cases across the country and in New York State, Senator David Carlucci has introduced legislation (S.5136-A) to counter misinformation about vaccines. The legislation calls for a state funded vaccine awareness campaign, and requires the New York State Health Department work with an outside contractor to develop the campaign, which can include social media outreach, public service announcements, and written materials. The awareness campaign would be funded through a check-off box on a personal income tax form so people can charitably give to the initiative.
"We have seen the spread, not only of measles, but misinformation about vaccines. The Senate Majority is currently doing a social media outreach campaign about vaccine awareness. Now let’s go further and fund a campaign by the State Health Department so we can counter inaccurate information long-term, especially in communities that are often closed off to outsiders," said Senator David Carlucci. “Measles is a vaccine-preventable disease, and we are seeing the highest number of cases in 25 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
"With at least 600 cases of measles confirmed across New York City and our state, we are facing an unprecedented public health crisis. The atrocious peddlers of junk science and fraudulent medicine who we know as anti-vaxxers have spent years sowing unwarranted doubt and fear, but it is time for legislators to confront them head on. I'm proud to co-sponsor Senator Carlucci's new legislation, and carry the bill with Assemblymember Dinowitz (S.2994) to eliminate non-medical exemptions to vaccination across New York State. As a parent of two young children, this is personal for me. We can't afford to wait a minute longer,” said Senator Brad Hoylman.
"Vaccines are our best defense against deadly and debilitating diseases that were once eradicated and are now making a resurgence," said Marc Price, DO, President of the NYS Academy of Family Physicians. "The science and evidence is clear that vaccines are both safe, and highly effective when at least 90-95% of our population is immunized. We endorse the vaccine schedule and recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which would be promoted through S.5136-A. We commend Senator Carlucci for the introduction of this legislation to expand vaccine education and awareness in order to increase vaccination rates and protect those who are unable to be vaccinated due to age or for medical reasons. We look forward to working with Senator Carlucci on the bill's advancement this year."
The recent measles outbreaks across New York State have raised concerns about the need to educate New York residents on the importance of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and dispel common myths surrounding immunizations. In low vaccination communities in New York, we have seen anti-vaccine propaganda such as magazines and pamphlets claiming vaccines are in opposition of Jewish law, that the MMR vaccine is linked to autism, and that children have been irreversibly harmed by vaccines. All these myths are false and have been debunked by science and medical professionals.
However, the overwhelming majority of the confirmed measles cases had not received the measles vaccine, suggesting more outreach like an awareness campaign is needed. As of April 24, 2019, there have been 232 confirmed cases of measles outside of New York City, according to data from the New York State Department of Health. Rockland County has 200 confirmed cases of measles and cases have been recorded in Orange County, Westchester County, and Sullivan County. In New York City, Brooklyn and Queens has 390 confirmed cases of the measles, according to the New York City Health Department.
On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said 695 cases of the measles had been confirmed in 22 states, making this the worst year for measles since the disease was eradicated from the country in 2000. The CDC noted the longer the outbreaks continues the greater the chance the disease will “again sustain a foothold” in the U.S.
Measles is an extremely contagious airborne disease that can linger for hours after an infected individual coughs and leaves the room. One person with measles can infect 12-18 other people in an unimmunized population. This is a higher rate than other dangerous viruses, including Ebola, HIV, or SARS. The CDC recommends the MMR vaccine for everyone over a year old, except for people who had the disease as children. People who have had the measles are immune.