May 14, 2019 By Laura Hanrahan
The New York City Department of Health shut down The Yeshiva of Central Queens after the school failed to exclude unvaccinated students following a known measles exposure at the school.
On May 9, the school, located at 147-37 70th Rd., was slapped with an Order of the Commissioner after DOH became aware of a measles exposure at the school. The order instructed the school to not allow any unvaccinated children to attend for 21 days.
The school is now required to submit a corrective action plan to DOH detailing how it will address its lapses in complying with the order. The plan will then need to be reviewed and approved by the city agency before the school can reopen.
This marks the first school closure outside of Brooklyn, where a total of eight school, primarily in the Williamsburg area, have been closed by DOH for failing to comply with a Commissioner’s Order. All eight Brooklyn have since been authorized to reopen.
To date, 498 cases of measles have been confirmed in the city since last October. Eighty percent of these cases have been found within five ZIP codes in and around Williamsburg, which have been under an Emergency Order since April 9, requiring those who live or work in those areas to be vaccinated.
“In order to prevent outbreaks in new areas of the City we need parents to get their children vaccinated and schools to exclude children who are not up to date with the measles vaccine,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot.
“We continue to urge unvaccinated New Yorkers to get vaccinated against measles as soon as possible. Exposures outside of the Williamsburg neighborhood have not resulted in sustained transmission because of relatively high levels of vaccination in affected communities. Maximizing the number of individuals up to date with their measles vaccine is the best way to protect our communities.”
The DOH says it has engaged in extensive community outreach, particularly targeting orthodox Jewish communities in the area, where vaccination rates are lower. The agency has met with rabbinical and community leaders and distributed educational material in both English and Yiddish.