Measles Outbreak: Ending Religious Exemptions for Vaccinations

 nytimes.com  06/14/2019 09:47:39  2  Azi Paybarah
Azi Paybarah

Weather: Expect a bright day, with a high near 75. Wind gusts may be as high as 15 miles per hour.

Alternate-side parking: In effect until July 4.

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CreditJohn Taggart for The New York Times

New York is the epicenter of the countrys measles outbreak.

The outbreak has mostly affected ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn and Rockland County, where vaccine skeptics and advocates for religious freedom have refused to vaccinate their children. Hundreds of measles cases have originated there, according to health officials in New York City and Rockland County.

And yesterday, the State Legislature approved a bill eliminating religious and nonmedical exemptions for immunizations. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo immediately signed it into law.

[Read more about yesterdays vote to ban certain exemptions to vaccinations.]

Anti-vaccination fervor has also come from the left, and health authorities fear the outbreak could move to groups that include students at progressive private schools that are part of the Waldorf educational movement.

[Read more about the anti-vaccine movement: 60 percent of the 300 students at one Waldorf school were not vaccinated against measles and other diseases.]

Heres the latest on the measles outbreak:

How many cases of measles has New York City had?

As of June 10, 588 cases were confirmed since September, according to the citys Department of Health.

How many people in New York State have not been vaccinated for religious reasons?

It is hard to estimate, but the best figures that officials have are on children, because schools and child care centers require enrollees to meet certain health standards.

During the 2017-18 school year, 26,217 students in public, private and parochial schools, child care centers, nursery schools and prekindergarten programs in the state had religious exemptions, according to the State Department of Health.

How are religious exemptions connected to the measles outbreak?

The Timess Elizabeth Dias, who covers religion and politics, provided this answer:

Vaccination rates tend to be low among the ultra-Orthodox, and the reasons vary, from fear of interference from outsiders to confusion over accurate religious and medical information.

She added that some ultra-Orthodox Jews worry that vaccinating interrupts a divine plan for someones life, and they dont want to interfere in Gods will.

Others have concerns that some vaccines could violate religious dietary laws, unless they are designated kosher or halal.

How many states prohibit religious exemptions to vaccinations?

Only a handful: Arizona, California, Mississippi and West Virginia.

If I choose not to vaccinate my child, why should anyone else care?

Measles is highly contagious. That means your personal decision on vaccination can have very public ramifications.

CreditDesiree Rios for The New York Times

What were watching: The Timess 52 Places Traveler, Sebastian Modak, talks about his work on The New York Times Close Up With Sam Roberts. The show airs tonight at 8, on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. and on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. [CUNY TV]

What were listening to: The rapper and activist Meek Mill talks about criminal justice reform during a visit to Manhattan. [FAQ NYC]

Friday:

The Brooklyn Art Book Fair features publications, original art and more at the McCarren Play Center. 6 p.m.-9 p.m. [Free]

A night of video art inspired by Tibetan murals at Wonderville in Brooklyn. 8 p.m. [$10]

Three names are on the lineup at Basement, a new techno club in Queens. 10 p.m. [$25]

Saturday:

The Schomburg Center Pride Film Festival screens Moonlight, A Litany for Survival: The Life and Work of Audre Lorde and Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Manhattan. Noon - 6 p.m. [Free]

Celebrate Juneteenth, a holiday to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans, with a parade and music at Gershwin Park in Brooklyn. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. [Free]

Sunday:

CaribBeing, a Caribbean festival of food and music, is at Prospect Park in Brooklyn. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. [Free]

The multicultural block party hosted by the Museum at Eldridge Street in Manhattan unites the cultures of the neighborhood. Come for Chinese opera, klezmer music and mambo. Noon - 4 p.m. [Free]

 Vivian Ewing

Events are subject to change, so double-check before heading out. For more events, see the going-out guides from The Timess culture pages.

CreditJustin Teodoro

The New York artist Justin Teodoro went from designing clothes to fashion illustration and, sometimes, coloring directly on clothes. (He once made a pair of crisp white Reebok sneakers look like something Vincent van Gogh might approve of.) But he may be best known for a drawing in response to the I really dont care jacket Melania Trump wore on a trip last June to Texas.

Whatever the subject or medium, Mr. Teodoros work demonstrates a parade of influences. There is the energetic playfulness of Keith Haring, the spare elegance of Henri Matisse and, of course, the rearranged abstractions of Pablo Picasso.

Today from noon to 4 p.m., Mr. Teodoro will be at Macys flagship store on 34th Street offering free sketches for Fathers Day.

Its cute and charming to see parents with their kids, he said in an interview. The drawings will be casual, fast and fun, he added. Most will be in black and white, but a splash of color may sneak in.

When asked about fashion advice for fathers, Mr. Teodoro said, Dad jeans are back in style in an ironic way. To complete the dad uniform, wear a cellphone clip on the belt.

Not that he was encouraging such behavior.

In the age of selfies and cellphones, drawings offer a delight because they are outdated. Its like getting a handwritten letter versus an email, Mr. Teodoro said.

And who better would appreciate an outdated delight than a dad?

Its Friday  youve made it!

Dear Diary:

I ran into a neighbor on my way out for another blind date. I was new to the building, so I was glad when she beckoned me into the elevator. I introduced myself as Kate, the name my recently deceased grandmother had called me.

I learned that she was Hungarian and that she had lived in New York for several decades. She described how she and her sister had helped their mother with her vineyard in Hungary, walking several miles every morning to get there.

I told her I had spent time living near the border between Slovakia and Hungary, and my mind wandered back to that place. I could smell the way the air felt my first summer there: the grassy, muddy scent of the Danube mixed with the smell of fresh ice cream from all the stands open for the season.

We chatted until I realized that I was late.

Who are you going to meet? Her eyes smiled mischievously.

I chuckled. A friend, I said. Her expression, the same one my grandmother would have had, told me she knew I was lying.

The date went sour. When I managed to get a word in, he wasnt listening anyway. My mind wandered again, and I wondered what my neighbor was up to. I wished I was having dinner with her instead.

A week later, turning the corner onto my street, I spotted her heading home.

Hello again, I said. Do you remember me?

After a second, her eyes lit up.

Kate, she said. Its good to see you.

Remind me of your name again? I didnt catch it last week.

Rose, she said. I got the strangest sense that I knew her already.

Oh, I love that name, I said. It was my grandmothers.

 Katie Perkowski

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