Measles is a virus that causes fever and a rash. It is highly contagious and anyone who is not vaccinated against the virus can get it at any age.
Although measles is rare in the United States because of high vaccination rates, it is still common in other parts of the world. Measles is common in some countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa and is occasionally brought into the Unites States by unvaccinated travelers who return with measles infection.
If you are a medical provider, see our Measles Information for Providers.
Recent Outbreak in Brooklyn and Queens
As of May 20, 2019, there have been 523 confirmed cases of measles in Brooklyn and Queens since September. Most of these cases have involved members of the Orthodox Jewish community.
Vaccination Requirement in Brooklyn
On April 9, the Health Commissioner ordered every adult and child who lives, works or resides in the following ZIP codes and has not received the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to be vaccinated:
On April 17, the Board of Health voted unanimously to adopt a resolution supporting the Commissioner's order and the vaccination requirement.
As of May 20, 24,815 doses of the MMR vaccine have been administered to people who are under 19 years old in Williamsburg and Borough Park since October.
People who demonstrate they are immune from measles or have a medical condition that prevents them from receiving the vaccine will not need to get vaccinated.
If the Health Department identifies a person with measles or an unvaccinated child exposed to measles in one of the above ZIP codes, that individual or their parent or guardian could be fined $1,000.
You can get vaccinated at a Federally Qualified Health Center in Brooklyn (PDF), or at our immunization clinic in Fort Greene.
Further Guidance During the Outbreak
In addition to making sure you and your family have received the MMR vaccine, we recommend the following:
- Spending time in NYC outside of areas with reported measles: If you do not know if you or your family have been vaccinated, ask your health care provider for a blood test to check if you are immune. If you are not immune and do not have a medical reason why you cannot get the MMR vaccine, get vaccinated.
- Anyone born after January 1, 1957, who has not received a measles-containing vaccine, or who does not have a blood test providing that they are immune to measles, should receive one dose of the MMR vaccine.
- Living, working or going to school in ZIP codes 11205, 11206, 11211 or 11249: Measles vaccination is required, as ordered by the Health Commissioner. If you are unsure whether you have been vaccinated, ask your health care provider for proof of immunity or vaccination.
- Living, working, going to school or spending time in areas with reported measles (Borough Park, Crown Heights or Rockland County) but outside the above ZIP codes: If you do not know if you or your family have been vaccinated, ask your provider for a blood test to check if you are immune. If you are not immune and do not have a medical reason why you cannot get the MMR vaccine, get vaccinated.
- Traveling to another country that has reported measles: Get documentation showing you have been vaccinated or a blood test to make sure you have measles immunity. If you do not have records or do not know your immunity status, get the MMR vaccine prior to travel — ideally two weeks before departure.
- Spending time in NYC outside of areas with reported measles: Vaccination is required for all children attending child care or school in NYC. The best way to protect your child from measles is to verify that they are up to date with their MMR vaccine. This group of children should get the vaccine on the standard MMR schedule — one dose on or after their first birthday, and a second dose before they enter school at 4 to 6 years of age.
- Living or going to school in ZIP codes 11205, 11206, 11211 or 11249:
- All children aged 6 months and older: They must be up to date on their MMR vaccine, as ordered by the Commissioner. Failure to comply may result in a fine of $1,000 for their parents/guardians. For infants 6 months to 11 months old, this extra, early dose of MMR vaccine does not count toward the routine MMR vaccine series, and will need to be repeated after the child's first birthday.
- Living, working, going to school or spending time in areas with reported measles (Borough Park, Crown Heights or Rockland County) but outside the above ZIP codes:
- Infants aged 6 to 11 months: We recommend they receive an extra, early dose of MMR vaccine. This dose would not count toward the routine MMR vaccine series, and will need to be repeated after the child's first birthday.
- All children aged 12 months and older: They should be up to date on their MMR vaccine. These children must have received a minimum of one dose of MMR vaccine. They can safely receive a second dose before they turn 4 and at least 28 days after their first dose. This early second dose counts toward the routine, two-dose vaccine series required for school.
- All children in NYC who are members of the Orthodox Jewish community, including those who do not live or go to school in areas with reports of measles: We recommend infants aged 6 to 11 months receive an extra, early dose of MMR vaccine. This dose would not count toward the routine, two-dose vaccine series required for school.
- Traveling to another country that has reported measles: Infants aged 6 to 11 months should receive a dose of MMR vaccine before they travel. All other children should be up to date on their MMR vaccine and have documentation of their vaccine history or immunity to measles. Children should be vaccinated prior to travel — ideally two weeks before departure.
All infants under 6 months of age: They cannot receive the MMR vaccine. If the mother is vaccinated or immune, infants younger than 6 months of age are presumed to have some protection from their mother. Do not knowingly expose your infant to someone who is sick with the measles or any other contagious illness. If your infant has been exposed to someone confirmed to have measles, speak to your doctor immediately. They can administer immune globulin, a medication to prevent measles after a known exposure.
Measles Cases by Neighborhood, Age and Date
The following case counts are from September 1, 2018, to May 20, 2019.
|Neighborhood||Confirmed Cases||New Cases Since May 13, 2019|
|Brighton Beach/Coney Island||4||None|
|Hunts Point, Longwood and Melrose||1||None|
Cases by Age and Vaccination Status
|Age Range||Unvaccinated||With One |
|With Two |
|Under 1 year||81||2||None||None||83|
|1 – 4 years||201||25||None||1||227|
|5 – 17 years||104||2||7||None||113|
|18 years and over||5||5||15||75||100|
How Measles Spreads
Measles is spread through the air when an infected person sneezes or coughs. A person will be contagious four days before the rash appears and for four days after the rash appears. They are no longer contagious on the fifth day after the rash started.
The virus remains active and contagious in the air and on surfaces for up to two hours.
Symptoms usually appear 10 to 12 days after exposure to the virus. In some cases, symptoms may start as early as seven days or as late as 21 days.
Early symptoms include:
- Runny nose
- Red, watery eyes
Three to five days after initial symptoms, a rash of red spots appears on the face that then spreads over the entire body.
Anyone can become infected with measles, but the virus is more severe in infants, pregnant women and people whose immune systems are weak. Complications of measles include:
- Ear infections
- Pneumonia (infection of the lungs)
- Encephalitis (swelling of the brain)
- Premature birth or low-birth-weight in pregnancy
Vaccination is the best way to prevent measles. Anyone who has received two doses of a measles-containing vaccine is considered immune and highly unlikely to get measles.
A child should get a measles vaccine on or after their first birthday. The vaccine is combined with mumps and rubella vaccines into one vaccine called MMR (measles, mumps and rubella). A second dose of MMR vaccine is recommended before children enter school at 4 to 6 years of age. Infants ages 6 to 11 months should also receive MMR vaccine before travelling internationally.
For information on where you or your child can get vaccinated, call 311.
Vaccination Requirements Citywide
Most people who receive the MMR vaccine do not have any side effects. Some people experience mild side effects, such as fever, mild rash or swelling. Severe problems are very rare.
Vaccine ingredients do not cause autism. More than 25 articles have been published since 1999 that have found no link between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as well as no link between the MMR vaccine and ASD in children.
Diagnosis and Treatment
There is no specific medicine to treat the measles virus. Most of the time, people with measles will get better on their own. For example, in some situations vitamin A may be recommended if a child is malnourished. Treatment may be given for the symptoms of the virus.