By Victoria Merlino
The city Health Department temporarily closed a Flushing school onMonday amid a measles outbreak unprecedented in recent U.S. history.
The city announced it had shuttered the Yeshiva of Central Queens because the school did not comply with a Department of Health order to bar unvaccinated people from the school for 21 days following known exposure to measles.
The Yeshiva of Central Queens, located at 147-37 70th Road, is the ninth school temporarily closed because of measles exposure, according to the Health Department. The other eight are in Brooklyn. There have been 498 confirmed cases of measles since the outbreak began in Brooklyn in October 2018.
The school’s attorney John Farrell said he understands the precaution, but told the Eagle there have been no cases of measles among students at the school.
“We recognize that they are trying to contain the epidemic,” Farrell said.
The measles exposure at the Yeshiva — which serves children from early childhood to 8th grade — was restricted to a single outside vendor who visited the school after being exposed to the measles virus, Farrell said.
The Department of Health has reviewed the records for a majority of the school's approximately 1,000 active students and found that they are properly vaccinated, Farrell continued. The school is still waiting on an audit of paperwork submitted by fewer than 10 students.
Farrell said the Yeshiva would implement new measles vaccination requirements for students no later than the beginning of the Fall 2019 semester.
“These are trying times for our students and their families, as well as the Yeshiva, its staff and the Department of Health inspectors, who are working tirelessly to complete the review as soon as possible to ensure an expeditious re-opening of the Yeshiva,” he said.
The school was confident it would reopen sometime this week, Farrell said.
Of the nearly 500 confirmed cases of measles in New York City, 399 were people from four zip codes in Williamsburg.
“A small number of cases have occurred outside of these neighborhoods but have, to date, not resulted in sustained transmission of measles,” the Health Department said in a statement.
“In order to prevent outbreaks in new areas of the City we need parents to get their children vaccinated and schools to exclude children who are not up to date with the measles vaccine. We continue to urge unvaccinated New Yorkers to get vaccinated against measles as soon as possible,” Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot said in a statement.
“Exposures outside of the Williamsburg neighborhood have not resulted in sustained transmission because of relatively high levels of vaccination in affected communities,” Barbot said. “Maximizing the number of individuals up to date with their measles vaccine is the best way to protect our communities.”