The United States is currently experiencing one of the largest outbreaks of Measles in decades and several Hudson Valley counties have taken action to combat the problem. The outbreak in New York is highest in areas with a large Orthodox Jewish population including Rockland, Orange, and Sullivan counties.

Rockland County went as far as banning unvaccinated people from being in public spaces. That ban was suspended by a court challenge. Governor Andrew Cuomo recently signed legislation removing the "religious exemption" for vaccinations for school children. In Sullivan County, individuals with "medical exemptions" prohibiting getting vaccinated will still be allowed to participate in summer camp.

“Children and adults who cannot receive the measles vaccine for medically authorized reasons are still allowed to attend camp in Sullivan County, consistent with Public Health Order No. 1 of 2019,” notes Sullivan County Public Health Director Nancy McGraw.

According to the New York State Department of Health, a valid medical exemption must:

  1. Be on a sample medical exemption form issued by the Department (www.health.ny.gov/forms/doh-5077.pdf) or the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, or on a signed statement that certifies that the immunization may be detrimental to a child’s health;
  2. Be signed by a physician licensed to practice medicine in New York State;
  3. Contain sufficient information to identify the medical contraindication to a specific immunization. The Department recommends that health care practitioners consult the ACIP guidelines for contraindications and precautions to childhood vaccinations, available atwww.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/acip-recs/general-recs/contraindications.html. (Please note that the guidelines contain all ACIP recommended vaccines, including some that are not currently required for schools and child day care programs in New York State); and
  4. Be confirmed annually.

Sullivan County’s Public Health Order No. 1 of 2019 requires all other campers and staff members at NYS-regulated summer camps in the County to present acceptable proof of measles immunization or pending immunization. The full text of that order can be found atwww.sullivancountyny.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_Meeting.aspx?ID=1420.

“While it is not required by this Public Health Order, we are also strongly recommending that any child age 4 years old and older who has not received their second MMR (Measles/Mumps/Rubella) vaccination do so before arriving at summer camp,” says McGraw.

In collaboration with State and Federal authorities, Sullivan County Public Health Services continues to closely monitor and respond to measles cases, which to date have numbered nine locally. Both residents and visitors are strongly encouraged to become familiar with measles, its transmission, and what to do in suspect cases. Further info is available at www.sullivanny.us/departments/publichealth/measlesor by calling the New York State Measles Hotline at 888-364-4837.