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17 Cases of Measles Reported in New York as Health Officials Urge Local Communities to Vaccinate

With 17 confirmed cases of the measles in New York in the last week, health officials are reminding local communities about the importance of proper vaccination.

Six children in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn have been diagnosed with the measles, along with 11 in Rockland County, about 30 miles north of the city, NBC4 reported. In both areas, the outbreaks seem to have been started by children returning from Israel, where there is currently a large outbreak of the highly contagious disease.

The children in Williamsburg are part of the Orthodox Jewish community, where there were five additional cases of the measles earlier this month. They are between 11 months and 4 years old, and five of them are unvaccinated. Of those five, four had been voluntarily held back from vaccination, and one was too young. The sixth child had started their measles vaccination, but the single dose was not yet enough to protect from the disease.

One of the children had to go to the hospital with pneumonia, and another developed an ear infection.

Because of the local outbreak, the New York City Health Department will meet with rabbis and elected officials in Williamsburg on Thursday to talk about vaccination.

“Although measles is preventable, too many families are choosing to not vaccinate or delay vaccination, putting their children and other children at risk,” Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot told NBC4.

Though the Centers for Disease Control has said there is no scientific link between vaccines and autism, some people and communities in the U.S. still refuse to vaccinate their children.

A member of the Orthodox community in Williamsburg told NBC4 that it’s an ongoing argument in the neighborhood.

“We have that debate every single day in our synagogues and our community,” Volvi Einhorn said. “And most of our people do get it, and the reckless people who don’t get it have a responsibility and they should take action.”

RELATED VIDEO: Michigan Mom Is Jailed for 7 Days After Refusing to Vaccinate 9-Year-Old Son

The majority of measles outbreaks occur in areas where people are unvaccinated, the CDC says. They typically start in the U.S. after a traveler returns from areas in the world where the disease is still common, such as Europe, Asia, the Pacific and Africa, and spreads in this country’s unvaccinated communities.

“Measles is a virus that is transmitted in the air when you’re next to someone that has the measles virus and is coughing or sneezing,” Dr. Jennifer Lighter Fisher, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at NYU Langone Medical Center, previously told PEOPLE. “The disease can also live on surfaces for about two hours.”

The CDC said in September that the current amount of measles cases is on par with previous years. As of Sept. 8, it has confirmed 137 cases of the disease in 24 states and Washington, D.C.

Read more: people.com

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