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Posted on: May 23, 2019

Neuhaus and Gelman Urge State Lawmakers to act on Legislation Eliminating Non-Medical Exemptions

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Goshen, N.Y. – Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus and County Health Commissioner Dr. Irina Gelman are urging State Legislators to act on legislation (A.2371-a/S.2994-a) which would remove non-medical exemptions from vaccination. At the same time, Orange County has issued two new measles outbreak related Commissioner’s Orders directing summer camps to take certain actions with respect to staff and campers.

“State Legislators have known about the growing measles epidemic and have failed to act,” Neuhaus said. “They must step up and take action to protect our young people and families.”

Dr. Gelman added: “There is no legitimate basis for non-medical exemptions relating to vaccine preventable diseases, as this issue has health and fiscal implications for the public at large. We cannot continue to collectively contend with the consequences of individual choices, it is time State Legislators take action and vote to eliminate non-medical exemptions from vaccination.”

Presently, there are 35 confirmed cases of measles in Orange County.

Legislation has been pending for months, without action by State lawmakers. 

In the meantime, County officials have worked closely with affected schools to exclude individuals exposed to measles from coming to school,as well as provided guidance documents to potentially affected schools, since the beginning of the current outbreak in November of 2018.  As summer camp season approaches, Commissioner Gelman has sent an Order to all summer camps in Orange County with instructions relative to vaccinations for all campers and camp staff.

The order requests that:

  • Any summer camp and/or children’s overnight camp operated in Orange County must maintain complete and accurate immunization records of all its staff, whether paid or unpaid and campers.

Any camp staff member working, whether paid or unpaid and camper attending the day camp and/or children’s overnight camp who has not received at least his/her first dose of MMR vaccine, and/ or failed to receive the second dose of MMR vaccine, will be excluded from and/or attending.

  • Any summer day camp and/or children’s overnight camp operated in Orange County must submit a list of all staff members, whether paid or unpaid, who will work at the summer day camp, and/or children’s overnight camp, and camper who will attend, together with their dates of birth and the dates they received the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine to the Orange County Department of Health.
  • If a confirmed case of measles has been identified at your camp, your facility must provide a notarized affirmation, affirmed under the penalties of perjury, identifying the names of partially vaccinated staff members, and campers who will be excluded from your specified summer day camp, and/or children’s overnight camp.

Failure to comply with this Commissioner’s Order can result in legal actions that may include an administrative hearing, civil penalties, a court and/or an injunction.

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus that is spread by direct contact with nasal or throat secretions of infected people. Symptoms include a fever, rash, cough, conjunctivitis and/or runny nose. Symptoms usually appear in 10-12 days after exposure but may appear as early as seven days and may take as long as 21 days.

If you have received two doses of MMR or measles-containing vaccine, have had measles, or were born before 1957, you are well protected against contracting measles. An extra measure of precaution is to monitor yourself for fever, cough, red eyes, and skin rash for 14 to 18 days after a potential exposure.

If you or your child have been exposed to measles or are having any of these symptoms, please keep your child home and contact your health care provider immediately by phone or the Orange County Department of Health at (845) 291-2330 before seeking care to avoid exposing others to illness.

“As a parent of four young children, I know that infections can spread rapidly through schools.” Neuhaus said. “The best defense against illnesses like the measles is timely vaccination.”

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