“There are halachic obligations to care for one’s own health as well as to take measures to prevent harm and illness to others, and Jewish law defers to the consensus of medical experts in determining and prescribing appropriate medical responses to illness and prevention. Therefore, the consensus of major poskim (halachic decisors) supports the vaccination of children to protect them from disease, to eradicate illness from the larger community through so-called herd immunity, and thus to protect others who may be vulnerable. The vaccination of children who can medically be vaccinated is absolutely the only responsible course of action.”
Statement on Vaccinations from the OU and Rabbinical Council of America
Again, Orthodox Jews are not against vaccines.
“Getting vaccinated according to recommended guidelines is not only vital for the health of both our community and the public-at-large, but it is also our halachic obligation.”
Of course, with the emergency order in Brooklyn, the focus is now shifting.
So what do we now about the Brooklyn measles outbreak?
the outbreak began in October 2018 and was started by a traveler returning from Israel, where there is a large outbreak
as of early April, there have been 285 cases (we rarely see that many cases in an entire year, even when combining all of the cases in the whole country!)
most cases are in the Orthodox Jewish community, even though this is not a religious issue, except that this community has been targeted by an antivaccine group
429 cases have been in children
85 have been infants
only 24 have been fully vaccinated
the youngest case was an infant who was only 4 weeks old!
21 people have been hospitalized
5 have been admitted to the ICU!
What else do we know?
Although the outbreak is in its 7th month, which is very long for a measles outbreak in the post-vaccine era, there have been over 200 new cases in just the past few months!
So at a time when cases should have already stopped (most outbreaks only last a few months), or at least be decreasing, the Brooklyn outbreak continues to grow!
There is no sign of it stopping either, with new reports of more than 20 to 40 cases each week.
And that’s what brought on the April 9 declaration of an emergency order.
“IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that any person who lives, works or resides within the 11205, 11206, 11221 and/or 11237 zip codes and who has not received the MMR vaccine within forty eight (48) hours of this Order being signed by me shall be vaccinated against measles unless such person can demonstrate immunity to the disease or document to the satisfaction of the Department that he or she should be medically exempt from this requirement. “
ORDER OF THE COMMISSIONER to All persons who reside, work or attend school in the neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York and to the parents and/or guardians of any child who resides, works or attends school in the neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York
Does this mean that they will be forcing everyone in Williamsburg to get vaccinated? And arresting those that don’t?
“I want to do the common sense point. We are trying to get people vaccinated. Our goal is not to find anyone. Our goal is not to shut down schools. Our goal is to get people vaccinated.”
Mayor Bill De Blasio
It should be clear that they are just trying to end the outbreak.
“People in violation of the order will be identified through identification of exposures. Disease detectives will check for immunization status or immunity when tracing the contacts of a person who has developed the illness. “
Oxiris Barbot, M.D. Commissioner of Health
And no one will be forced to get a vaccine. You might be fined if you insist on not getting vaccinated and you have been exposed to someone with measles, but you still won’t be forced to get the vaccine.
Why did it come to this?
Couldn’t they just quarantine folks who are exposed?
Well, they have been trying that…
And it hasn’t been working.
In addition to schools continuing to let in unvaccinated students, the health department is concerned that people in the community might actually be having measles parties!
“So we have not used a public health emergency to mandate vaccine in recent history. The circumstance of the combination of a large anti-vax movement in combination with a large outbreak has not happened in the way that it has happened right now.”
Dr. Herminia Palacio, NYC Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services
The case count jumped again on May 24, to 535 cases.
“The Health Department announced today that the number of measles cases has grown to 390, including two pregnant women diagnosed with the infection, one diagnosed in mid-April… Twelve individuals have received summonses for being non-compliant with the Emergency Order since the City began issuing summonses last week. “
If you are upset that this is happening in Brooklyn, the outbreaks and the response to the outbreaks, just remember that it is the anti-vaccine groups working in the community are to blame.
This year, we sometimes get reports of 37 cases in a week.
A rise in measles cases all over the world happened. And since folks do travel, that led to outbreaks in any community that doesn’t have high rates of vaccination.
How an Anti-Vaccine Safety Handbook Has Caused the Longest Measles Outbreak in Recent History
And that’s where the PEACH Vaccine Safety Handbook comes into play.
Since at least 2014, the PEACH project folks and have been distributing their magazines filled with misinformation about vaccines in Orthodox Jewish communities.
In addition to Lakewood, the PEACH magazine was sent to “a mailing list that included a comprehensive directory of Pittsburgh families affiliated with various branches of Orthodoxy.”
And it found its way to Brooklyn and other Orthodox communities. Many of the same communities where we are now seeing the largest measles outbreaks in recent history, although there are plenty of outbreaks in other places too.
Surprisingly, PEACH is pure PRATT – anti-vaccine points refuted a thousand times.
The cartoons were a nice touch, but should have been a tip-off that none of it was true! There is even a cartoon about the HAZMAT myth.
It all does look very official and sounds scary though, so it is easy to see how parents could be mislead by the magazine, especially when they seem to cite references for all of their “facts.”
But let’s look at some of the facts in the above timeline:
is there any reason why Germany might have seen a rise in diphtheria cases in 1945?
Ghana was not declared measles-free in 1967. Unfortunately, Ghana is still not measles-free…
while the SV40 virus did contaminate some polio vaccines, it has not been associated with causing cancer or any other problems
whooping cough cases rose in Sweden and the UK because they stopped using the DPT vaccine in the late 1970s and 80s over fears of side effects. Of course, we now know that these fears were unfounded and many kids suffered because those fears were hyped by a few doctors, the media, and players from the start of the modern anti-vaccine movement
Jonas Salk testified that “mass inoculation against polio was the cause of most polio cases in the USA since 1961” because the Salk and Sabin polio vaccines had already controlled wild polio in the United States!!!
What about the idea that “the February 1981 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 90% of obstetricians and 66% of pediatricians refused to take the rubella vaccine?” That’s actually kind of true. But it was just a survey of a small number of employees at Los Angeles County University of Southern California Medical Center, most of whom believed that they actually were immune because they had likely been exposed to rubella so much in the past.
The rest of the magazine continues with the same kind of propaganda, trying to make folks think that vaccines don’t work, vaccines aren’t necessary, and that vaccines are dangerous.