Officials from a suburban New York City county that’s the epicenter for the nation’s biggest measles outbreak in 25 years are supporting legislation that would eliminate religious exemptions for required vaccinations.
Rockland County Executive Ed Day and county Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert joined state lawmakers in Albany on Monday to back a measure introduced in the Senate and Assembly, both controlled by Democrats.
Day, a Republican, urged for passage as soon as possible so local officials can “get a grip on this disease.”
Federal health officials say measles has spread to 22 states this year with more than 700 cases reported. Ruppert said 202 of those cases were reported in Rockland.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says this year’s count includes 44 people who caught the disease while traveling in another country. Some of them triggered U.S. outbreaks, mostly among unvaccinated people. That includes the largest outbreaks, in Orthodox Jewish communities in and around New York City.
Three-quarters of those who caught the extremely contagious disease are children or teenagers.
No deaths have been reported but 66 patients were hospitalized.
Measles spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes.