New York Parents Afraid to Vaccinate Their Children Resort to 'Measles Parties' Amid Outbreak

Junie Sihlangu
Apr 10, 2019
12:14 P.M.

On Tuesday, New York City declared a public health emergency due to a measles outbreak in Brooklyn. Unvaccinated people in affected areas are now required to get the vaccine or face fines.


However, it has come to the city’s attention that some parents with unvaccinated children are hosting “measles parties” to expose their children to infected ones.

These parties involve parents intentionally exposing their unvaccinated children to other children with measles with the intent that they would get the disease themselves. These parents mistakenly believe that this is a safe way to create immunity for their children.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said they "strongly recommends against hosting or participating in these events." New York City's health commissioner, Dr. Oxiris Barbot, noted: “I understand that parents may be afraid of getting their children vaccinated.”

"The measles outbreak must be dealt with immediately."

However, she urged them saying, “I know that getting vaccinated is far safer than getting measles.” The Brooklyn measles outbreak has been primarily among Orthodox Jewish children.

The city had to declare a public health emergency forcing unvaccinated people in the affected areas to get the vaccine or face $1,000 in fines. The latest outbreak has been the city’s largest one since 1991.


Since last October 285 cases have been confirmed according to Mayor Bill de Blasio who spoke at a news conference. De Blasio said, "This is the epicenter of a measles outbreak that is very, very troubling and must be dealt with immediately.”

He also spoke up against the “misinformation” being spread by opponents of vaccines. Measles is a highly contagious virus that can lead to serious complications or death.


So far, 21 people have been hospitalized, while 5 others have been admitted to intensive care, and no deaths have occurred. All except 39 of the confirmed cases were in children.

The idea for “measles parties” came from the once-popular trend of “pox parties.” At the time, parents would intentionally expose their children to chickenpox before the Varicella vaccine came out in 1995.

The concept was to “naturally” build up children’s immunity to viruses. However, deliberately exposing children to chickenpox had its own risks.


A child being exposed to measles is even more dangerous. The virus can escalate into severe complications such as hard-to-treat bacterial infections, pneumonia, and inflammation of the brain.

In January, it was reported that more than 100 cases of measles had been diagnosed in 21 states and the District of Columbia. The statistics were shared by the CDC.

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