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New York Health Department Closes Orthodox Day Care Over Measles Outbreak

A Jewish child care center in Brooklyn was ordered closed by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for failing to provide access to vaccination records.

United Talmudical Academy in the Williamsburg neighborhood allegedly refused to comply with the city’s recent order for schools in heavily-Jewish areas of Brooklyn to ban unvaccinated children and maintain vaccination records in response to a measles outbreak, the department claimed. As a result, the health department ordered the facility closed, the first time an educational institution has received such a consequence since the outbreak began in October.

Twenty-three other yeshivas and day care centers have been given notice that they are in violation of the health directive, the department said.

The city’s order was established in order to combat the record-breaking measles outbreak, which is largely confined to Jewish areas and has been exacerbated by anti-vaccine misinformation campaigns targeting Jewish households. At this point, 329 cases of measles have been confirmed since last October, with 44 new cases in the last week, the department said.

Most rabbis and local newspapers have urged their constituents to vaccinate, but some families have refused due to fears of side effects, while others are not inherently opposed to vaccines but have not followed recommended inoculation schedules.

United Talmudical Academy, which is reportedly affiliated with the Satmar sect of ultra-Orthodox Judaism, did not immediately return a request for comment.

Health officials expect that the crisis will get worse during the upcoming holiday of Passover, which starts on Friday night, as many families will be traveling and confined in close quarters for ceremonial meals.

Aiden Pink is the deputy news editor for the Forward. You can reach him at [email protected] or on Twitter, @aidenpink

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