Health officials: Over 1,000 people contracted measles this yearPosted: Updated:
Federal health officials have reported that more than 1,000 people have contracted measles this year. In Rockland County alone, there are 262 cases reported.
This is the highest number of cases since the measles was considered to be "eliminated" nationwide in 2000.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' Dr. Anthony Fauci says the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention numbers, combined with the fact the disease has spread to two more states to now affect over half the country, should worry every parent.
"Children are getting sick, some of them sooner or later are going to get very seriously ill, and sooner or later some of them are going to die," says Fauci.
Doctors say that a reason why it has spread so much is due to people not getting vaccinated.
Lawmakers like state Sen. David Carlucci blame the outbreak on Albany's inability to pass a bill similar to one in California that mandates all school children be vaccinated, with no religious exemptions allowed.
He says a few senators in Albany, Republicans and Democrats alike, still oppose the bill.
"Some lawmakers get fearful when they hear opposition, when they have protesters outside their office," says Carlucci.
The Rockland County Health Department is holding another free vaccination clinic Monday. It's one of dozens held since the outbreak began in October in the hopes of getting everyone vaccinated.
Rockland County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert is reminding residents of the importance of getting vaccinated.
Officials say anyone who visited 'Pharmacy Plus' on North Main Street in Spring Valley on Tuesday, May 28 from 1-2 p.m. could have been exposed to the measles. They say there was also risk of exposure until 4 p.m. on the same day.
Officials say those times reflect the period that the infected individuals were in this area and a two-hour period after they left the area. They say the virus remains in the air and on surfaces for up to two hours.