A Brooklyn judge has sided with New York health officials to uphold a mandatory measles vaccinations order, dismissing a lawsuit from a group of parents who claimed the city had overstepped its authority.
Judge Lawrence Knipel on Thursday refused parents’ request to lift the vaccination order that was imposed last week to stem a severe measles outbreak. “A fireman need not obtain the informed consent of the owner before extinguishing a house fire,” Knipel wrote in his ruling as quoted by Gothamist. “Vaccination is known to extinguish the fire of contagion.”
On the same day, the city announced that it was closing four more schools and issuing three civil summons for parents who had failed to comply with the mandate.
As of Thursday, the New York Department of Health had recorded 359 cases of measles since the outbreak began in October, up from 329 confirmed cases on Monday. The cases are centered in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn.
A group of five parents had sued the city over the mandated measles, mumps and rubella vaccinations, claiming that the current outbreaks do not justify “drastic emergency measures” that override individual rights. The lawsuit argued that the outbreak was not a “clear and present danger to public health.”
But the judge disagreed.
“The unvarnished truth is that these diagnoses represent the most significant spike in incidence of measles in the United States in many years and the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn is at its epicenter,” he wrote in his opinion, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Robert Krakow, the parents’ attorney, said that his clients were disappointed and that they were discussing next steps, according to The Journal. He said he was not surprised by the decision.