NEW YORK – Opponents of the New York emergency declaration ordering everyone in a heavily orthodox Jewish neighborhood to be vaccinated for measles will file a lawsuit this week, a lawyer working with the group said Wednesday.
The civil rights lawyer Michael Sussman called the order threatening to fine residents of four postal codes in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, if they refuse to have their children vaccinated "an excess of authority".
Sussman also represented a group of parents in the suburban county of Rockland that challenged the county executive order by excluding unvaccinated children from indoor public spaces. A state judge sided with his parents and issued a preliminary injunction against the emergency order last week.
New York City and Rockland County are both struggling to contain a measles epidemic that has mainly affected Orthodox Jewish families.
Approximately 285 cases of measles have been identified in New York since last fall, compared to two in all of 2017. There have been 168 cases reported in Rockland since the autumn.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday he is confident that the New York City vaccination order would survive any legal challenge.
"This is an emergency for public health," the Democratic mayor said. "And the reason why the city government has power in a public health emergency is to save lives."
The authorities said the city health department will try to interview Williamsburg residents who have been diagnosed with measles and everyone they came in contact with.
Health officials will try to persuade any unvaccinated person who has been exposed to measles to get the vaccine. People who have refused the vaccine or who refuse to vaccinate their children could be fined up to $ 1,000.
Also Wednesday, officials from Westchester County, just north of New York, announced that measles was confirmed in eight children apparently exposed to the highly contagious virus while visiting Rockland or Brooklyn County. Six of the children are brothers.