Lakewood outbreak not worse thanks to higher vax rates, officials says
LAKEWOOD — As Ocean County deals with a second measles outbreak, the number of confirmed cases remains far below those of other outbreaks in New York.
A higher vaccination rate in Ocean County compared to the New York counties is an important reason why the numbers here remain so low, according to Ocean County Health Department of Health Coordinator Dan Regenye.
As of Friday, the number of confirmed cases in the latest outbreak is 11 with seven in Ocean County. Four cases in Monmouth County resulted from an infected person from Lakewood exposing a household of people at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch.
Ocean County's first outbreak had 33 confirmed cases before ending in January.
In comparison, Rockland County, New York, has 167 confirmed cases as of Friday. That county declared a state of emergency that prevents unvaccinated children from going to public places and school.
An outbreak in Brooklyn and Queens has 259 confirmed cases, according to the New York City Department of Health.
"The community itself is very supportive both of the health providers and the community as well," Regenye said about Ocean County residents. "For the most part, they are very supportive of vaccinations and very pro-vaccine but like in any population and in any community throughout the state and country, there are pockets of that community that do not have their vaccinations up to date."
Regenye said the rate is consistent across all races, ethnicities and religions.
The department offered free vaccinations at Ocean Health Initiative locations and CHEMED during the week.
Jewish organizations in New York and New Jersey — including the influential religious community council in Lakewood, the Vaad — have issued statements of support for vaccinations and condemned campaigns peddling unsubstantiated and debunked claims about the hazards of vaccines and scientifically unsupported ties to autism.
Regenye said anyone concerned about potential exposure to measles should contact their health provider or call their local health department for guidance in terms of where to go.
"We want to prevent a person showing up blindly at a physician's office or a hospital because they would expose a large number of people unnecessarily, which would require other public health action," Regenye said.
Symptoms of measles include rash, high fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes. Measles can cause serious complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis (swelling of the brain). In pregnant women, measles can lead to miscarriage, premature birth, or a low infant birth weight.