Signs advertising free measles vaccines and information about measles are displayed at the Rockland County Health Department, in Pomona, N.Y. New York City declared a public health emergency and issued an order for mandatory vaccinations on Tuesday over a "huge spike" in measles cases. File photo: AP Photo/Seth Wenig.

New York - New York City declared a public health emergency and issued an order for mandatory vaccinations on Tuesday over a "huge spike" in measles cases.

The public health order makes the measles vaccine mandatory for people living in the affected areas of Brooklyn and fines will be issued to those who remain unvaccinated, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference.

The affected area in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is home to an Orthodox Jewish community. The New York mayor's office said they had been reaching out to the community in both English and Yiddish.

There have been almost 300 recorded cases of measles since October 2018, de Blasio said. In 2017, there were only 2 recorded cases of measles.

The mayor's office placed the blame largely on intentional campaigns to discredit the safety of vaccinations - the so-called anti-vax movement that has gained prominence across the United States.

"It is crucial for people to understand the measles vaccine works - it is safe, it is effective, it is time-tested," de Blasio said.

He also warned against "measles parties," where parents expose their children to the measles infection in a bid to give them immunity.

dpa