A vial of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and an information sheet is seen at Boston Children's Hospital in Boston. File picture: Brian Snyder/Reuters
New York -  A New York county plans to ban unvaccinated children from all public spaces amid a relentless measles outbreak.

Rockland County Executive Ed Day plans Tuesday afternoon to declare a countywide state of emergency, which will begin at midnight and remain in place for 30 days or until unvaccinated minors receive the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, according to a news release. The county will provide further details at a 2 p.m. news conference.

Rockland public health authorities have been tracking measles cases amid an unrelenting anti-vaccine movement and outbreaks across the country.

By late last week, more than 150 cases had been confirmed in Rockland County, about 30 miles north of Manhattan, according to the county's website. More than 82 percent of these cases had not received a single dose of the MMR vaccine, and the largest number of cases - 45 percent - were seen in children age 4 to 18, the data showed.

Measles is highly contagious.

Before the introduction of the measles vaccine in 1963, most children did contract the illness - an estimated 3 million to 4 million patients each year in the United States, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of those, 48,000 were hospitalized, 400 to 500 died and 1 000 others suffered from a severe complication known as encephalitis, a condition in which the brain swells because of an infection.

In 2000 - almost four decades after parents began vaccinating their children - measles was declared eliminated in the United States.

CDC data shows that from 2000 to 2018, there was an average of 140 measles cases per year in the United States. And there were three reported fatalities during that time - one in 2002, one in 2003 and one in 2015.

The Washington Post