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A suburb of New York City has banned unvaccinated children from public places for at least 30 days as it battles a measles outbreak.

More than 150 people have been infected since the autumn, prompting Rockland County to declare a state of emergency.

Under the measures, any under 18s who are not vaccinated against measles are barred from shopping centres, schools, restaurants and even places of worship.

Anyone who violates the ban could face criminal charges and up to six months in jail.

At a news conference, Rockland County executive Ed Day said: "It's an attention grab, there's no question about it."

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Mr Day believes such a drastic step has never been tried in the US before – and he explained that he was taking action amid disturbing reports that health workers were encountering resistance when investigating cases.

The measles outbreak has most affected Orthodox Jewish communities, in which vaccination rates tend to be lower.

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According to Mr Day, only 73% of children in the county of 300,000 people have been vaccinated against measles – and he warned: "Parents will be held accountable if they're found to be in violation of this emergency declaration."

He stressed that the county does not intend to arrest people, but wants to stress how serious the situation is.

Michael Sussman, a civil rights lawyer representing the parents of 44 unvaccinated children who have been barred from going to school, is considering mounting a legal challenge to the emergency declaration.

He said: "It's irrational. You're punishing people who don't have the illness."

Mr Sussman argued that quarantining measles patients and their families would be more effective in stopping the spread of the disease.

Image: Health workers have encountered resistance when investigating cases

Earlier this month, a federal judge denied the parents' request to let unvaccinated children return to the school.

The lawsuit claimed the county's order banning unvaccinated children from schoRead More – Source

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