Sullivan County campers, staff, must have measles immunizations

There have been just two affirmed instances of measles in Sullivan County in recent months and the county legislature wants to keep ahead of the virus. Lawmakers voted in exceptional session on Tuesday to require full measles vaccinations for staff individuals and campers at summer camps in the area.

Each summer, the county’s populace triples as occupants from the New York metropolitan zone travel north to spend the summer months in the Catskills.

Health and Family Services Committee Chairwoman Nadia Rajsz said the county is adopting a proactive strategy to keep a lid on the virus. “This is another step of many we’ve taken to ensure our residents and visitors enjoy the summer while staying protected from this contagious disease,” she said.

The order, effective through September 15, “mandates that camp health directors verify all their campers and staffers have presented appropriate evidence of immunity to measles, or have presented proof of a valid medical exemption,” said county Public Health Director Nancy McGraw. “It also requires the camp director to screen campers and staff members for measles upon arrival to camp, and to find out from parents/guardians of campers whether each camper has had any possible exposure to measles within the last three weeks.”

In the event that those requirements are not met, the camp operator must not allow the camper or staff member to attend camp and if a measles case presents itself over the course of the camp’s season, the operator or health director must immediately inform Public Health Services.

Records must be kept up and both Public Health Services and the state health department have the authority to review that documentation upon demand. Should violations be found, a $2,000 fine per violation per day can be levied on the camp.

“In close collaboration with the state, we are taking every possible action to avoid a measles outbreak in Sullivan in the coming months,” said Health and Family Services Commissioner Joe Todora. “This is the latest in a long line of measures we’ve taken, and we’ve found camp leaders eager to comply. This order allows us to responsibly ensure enforcement, so as to minimize the further spread of measles.”

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