NYC Officials Listed Wrong ZIP Code for Measles Vaccination Order Then Changed it Without Telling Anyone

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New York City issued an order that stated people living or working in certain Brooklyn neighborhoods had to get vaccinate. Media for Medical/UIG via Getty Images

In an announcement on Tuesday, the New York City Health Commissioner's Officer ordered that residents of certain Brooklyn neighborhoods where the measles outbreak is particularly rampant had to get vaccinated. The order came with one big problem, however: One of the ZIP codes given was incorrect.

The order, which stated that those who did not get vaccinated within 48 hours of the order and could not prove immunity could be charged a $1,000 fine, was originally released with four ZIP codes designating the areas where people who live, work or reside were required to be vaccinated or immune. Those ZIP codes originally included the ZIP 11221, an area of Bushwick and Bedford-Stuyvesant.

But that order from Commissioner Oxiris Barbot's office changed Tuesday night. The change to the order removed the 11221 ZIP code and replaced it with another, very similar ZIP, 11211. The new ZIP code covers a large area of Williamsburg.

The change was not noted in any formal release from either the commissioner's office or from Mayor Bill de Blasio's office Tuesday evening when it was made. Tweets from the two in which the 11221 ZIP was listed were removed from social media and new ones were posted Tuesday evening.

Some people noticed the change though and tweeted about it, asking the officials for clarification on the ZIP code. Eric Phillips, press secretary for the mayor, tweeted back at one of the confused tweeters and said the correct ZIP code was in fact 11211.


— eric phillips (@EricFPhillips) April 10, 2019

Other people noticed another error in the order, where on Page 1 it listed the 11249 ZIP code and on Page 2, listed 11237. One person posted screenshots of the discrepancy on Twitter asking for clarification about which areas were actually part of the order.

The Department of Health responded and said that the correct ZIP codes were officially 11205, 11206, 11221 and 11249. That response cleared up the 11249-versus-11237 confusion but did not address the 11221-versus-11211 issue.

A later tweet from the department said that the ZIP codes where the vaccines were mandatory were "11205, 11206, 11211 and 11249." As of Wednesday morning, those were the same ZIP codes that the order listed, and they were consistent through the order.

The health commissioner's office and the mayor's office did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for information about the changes or confirm that they had been made as of Wednesday morning at 9:15 a.m. EDT.

Residents who are looking to get the vaccine are advised to contact the city's helpline 311.

Today we declared the current #measles outbreak in Williamsburg a public health emergency. @NYCHealthCommr is ordering mandatory vaccinations for all unvaccinated people in these ZIP codes: 11205, 11206, 11211 and 11249. More info:

— nychealthy (@nycHealthy) April 9, 2019

So far in 2019, there have been 465 cases of measles reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 19 states across the country. That figure represents the second greatest number of cases reported to the CDC in the United States since the virus was officially eliminated in 2000, according to the CDC.

In New York City, there have been 285 cases of measles since September 30, 2018, more than 250 of those have been from people living in the Williamsburg neighborhood, said the order from the commissioner.

Measles is characterized by a cough, fever, runny nose, red eyes and a rash, but the complications can be serious and sometimes cause death. Some complications include diarrhea and ear infections and more severe complications include pneumonia and brain swelling, known as encephalitis.