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NYC Health Officials Strike Criminal Penalties From Measles Vaccination Order – CBS New York


At A Glance

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – It was a big day at Kings County Supreme Court for anti-vaccine families in Brooklyn.

They’re fighting a New York City measles vaccination order, saying it violates their constitutional rights.

“I’m here to help protect a religious exemption for parents in New York City and throughout the U.S.,” Bushwick parent Andrea Biro told CBS2’s Tara Jakeway.

In a lawsuit, the families claim the city overstepped its authority by making vaccines mandatory in neighborhoods exposed to the ongoing outbreak. A group of parents showed up to court Thursday to fight the sanctions.

Web Extras: Read New York City’s vaccination order | Read lawsuit filed by families

Biro is the mother of a 16-year-old child with autism, who is not vaccinated. They live in one of the Brooklyn zip codes included in the order, which originally imposed criminal sanctions on parents who did’t comply.

“That scared the living daylights out of me. I’m a single parent, if they detain me, who’s going to take care of my child,” she said.

However, inside the courtroom Thursday, city health officials announced they amended the order late Wednesday, removing any criminal implications.


Even the attorney representing the families was unaware of the swift response.

“We succeeded. The criminal penalties are not being enforced, they are not in the order. That was the worst part of the initial order, the most unclear part, and that’s out now. So I think we won,” said Robert Krakow.

MORE: Health Officials Shut Brooklyn Child Care Facility Amid Fight Over Measles Outbreak

The judge said he would review the rest of the families’ lawsuit. They’re asking the city to lower the $1,000 fines for those who don’t comply with vaccinations or abolish the altogether.

There have been 329 confirmed measles cases in New York City since the outbreak started in October.

The state health department says the vaccine is 97 percent effective in preventing the disease.

Watch: NYC Health Officials Give Update On  Measles Outbreak

Some parents at Thursday’s hearing disagreed.

“My son was vaccinated. He got measles from his vaccine. They will call it a-typical measles,” Stephanie Mahairas, of Washington Heights, said.

City health officials called the outbreak an “epidemic,” saying the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines “epidemic” as three or more case.

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