Tag: Rockland

What Does the Torah Say About Vaccines?

Even though I grew up in Borough Park section of Brooklyn, this is probably the last article I ever thought I would be writing…

From the P.E.A.C.H. anti-vaccine magazine.

After all, what do I know about the Torah?

What Does the Torah Say About Vaccines?

Fortunately, it isn’t hard to find experts who have answered the question for us.

“We are obliged by the Torah “Venishmartem Meod L’nafshoseichem,” – “to guard our health” and if the recognized experts are telling us to vaccinate, then we must do it.”

Der Yid Newspaper – Senseless! Heartless! Torah-less and Reckless

There are many people in the Orthodox community warning the parents who aren’t vaccinating their kids that they are on “the wrong path.”

Their choice to skip or delay vaccines and put their kids at risk is not about religion

“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.”

Rabbi Hyim Shafner

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and are obviously necessary. For all of us.

More on What the Torah Say About Vaccines

Which Measles Records Will We Break This Year?

Don’t think that this year’s measles outbreaks will break any records?

Wanna bet?

Which Measles Records Will We Break This Year?

Unfortunately, we have already made one new record…

The Rockland County, New York measles outbreak, which has been going on since September 2018, has the record for being the longest outbreak since the endemic spread of measles was eliminated in the United States.

What other records will we break?

What other records are there?

  • 37 cases – the record low for the number of measles cases in a year, set in 2004
  • 667 cases – the recent record high set in 2014 and the most cases since 1994, when there were 963 cases.
  • 383 cases – the largest single outbreak since the endemic spread of measles was eliminated, set in Ohio in 2014

So, it’s mid-April and we are nearly 500 cases and the ongoing outbreak in Brooklyn is already at 285 cases…

I’m thinking that we are on track to break all of the records!

Well, except for the record low one…

Will we ever get there again?

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and necessary. Get vaccinated and help stop the outbreaks.

More on Measles Records

Timeline of the Measles Outbreak in Brooklyn

Breaking News – there are 30 new cases in Brooklyn, as a judge upholds the order, and 3 parents face penalties (see below).

There have been several big outbreaks of measles in the United States this year, but until recently, the biggest hadn’t gotten much attention.

As the outbreak in Brooklyn kept getting bigger and bigger, most people focused on the outbreaks in Clark County, Washington and Rockland County, New York.

Timeline of the Measles Outbreak in Brooklyn

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
  • 246 cases have been in children
  • 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 5th month, which is very long for a measles outbreak in the post-vaccine era, there have been 152 new cases in just the past month!

There were 133 measles cases in Brooklyn in early March.

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 has more than doubled in size!

There have been 285 cases of measles in the Brooklyn outbreak.

There is no sign of it stopping either, with news 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.

Williamsburg press conference with NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio, with Herminia Palacio, MD, NYC Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services, and Oxiris Barbot, MD, NYC Commissioner of Health
Williamsburg press conference with NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio, with Herminia Palacio, MD, NYC Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services, and Oxiris Barbot, MD, NYC Commissioner of Health

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

As in Rockland, there is also an aggressive anti-vaccine campaign in Brooklyn that is pushing misinformation and is scaring parents away from vaccinating their kids.

30 new cases this week

If you are upset that this is happening in Brooklyn, the outbreaks and the response to the outbreaks, the anti-vaccine groups working in the community are to blame.

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and are very obviously necessary.

Get vaccinated. Stop the outbreaks.

Timeline of the Measles Outbreak in Brooklyn

Updated April 18, 2019

How Many Active Cases Are There in Rockland County?

Three new cases were just reported in the Rockland County measles outbreak, pushing the total count to 161 cases in an outbreak that has been going on since September of 2018.

These are record breaking numbers.

Misleading? Fear mongering? Isn't that ironic???
Misleading? Fear mongering? Isn’t that ironic???

So of course, it’s time to move the goalposts!

How Many Active Cases Are There in Rockland County?

The number of active cases in an outbreak is an important number.

It’s a sign that the outbreak is under poor control.

For example, there were 45 new cases of measles in Brooklyn this week, following reports of 33 new cases the previous week. In fact, in the past 21 days, the case count in Brooklyn went from 158 to 259, which likely means that there have been over 100 active measles cases in Brooklyn during that time.

What about Rockland County?

In the past three weeks, the case count in Rockland County has increased by 16.

Why is three weeks an important number?

Because that’s how long it takes to develop symptoms after they have been exposed to someone with measles.

The problem in Rockland County, as Ed Day said in his press conference, is that people hadn’t been cooperating with the health department. So it is hard to actually know how many active cases there are. Is it five cases, as someone at the health department recently told an anti-vaccine women impersonating a caller who was concerned about her infant?

If so, that’s five cases too many!

The most important thing to understand, is that as we continue to see new cases, there is no sign that the outbreaks are stopping.

And the only numbers that really matter are ZERO new cases for 42 days.

That’s when the outbreaks will be declared over.

Let’s hope that we get there before we are talking about a new number, someone dying with measles.

More on Active Cases in Rockland County


How an Anti-Vaccine Safety Handbook Has Caused the Longest Measles Outbreak in Recent History

Can you believe that there were only 37 measles cases in 2004?

This year, we sometimes get reports of 37 cases in a week.

What happened?

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.

Folks really should read the package insert of vaccines and should understand what they say. They don’t say that vaccines are associated with autism.

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.”

This PEACH timeline was originally posted on several anti-vaccine websites back in 2007…

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
  • frivolous lawsuits over DPT side effects is what led to the rise in DPT prices
  • 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.

Their experts?

From Russell Blaylock and Mark Geier to Tim O’Shea and Sherri Tenpenny, it is a who’s who of the worst folks in the modern anti-vaccine movement. They are certainly not the kind of folks you should be turning to for advice about vaccines, or anything else.

I wonder what they say about Shaken Baby Syndrome? Is it a vaccine injury too?!?

As we have seen with these growing measles outbreaks, although it makes a catchy slogan, you can’t always vaccinate later. You can wait until it is too late.

“I can only conjecture. But it has to be a combination a propensity towards conspiracy theories and religiosity gone awry based on bad information and in my view a gross misunderstanding of Halacha.”

AntiVaxxers – Religious Views Gone Awry

And that’s how you end up with the longest lasting measles outbreak in the United States in nearly 20 years.

More on How an Anti-Vaccine Safety Handbook Has Caused the Longest Measles Outbreak in Recent History

Why Does the BMJ Post Anti-Vaccine Propaganda?

Getting something posted in a medical journal is a big deal?

Getting something posted in The BMJ? Not so much…

Why Does the BMJ Post Anti-Vaccine Propaganda?

Oh, I’m sure it used to be, as they are one of the world’s oldest general medical journals, going back to 1840.

“Reader feedback online is actively encouraged in the form of Rapid Responses were introduced in 1998, and 20 years later, had generated 115,000 fully-moderated responses.”

History of The BMJ

The thing is, they allow just about anyone to post these Rapid Responses, without making it very clear that they aren’t in a peer reviewed section of the journal.

What’s wrong with this Rapid Response?

  1. The Federal government isn’t issuing any kind of quarantine in this matter, the county is, so why would it be an issue as to whether or not measles is subject to Federal isolation and quarantine law? Anyway, while there are few diseases on the list that are subject to Federal isolation and quarantine law (they do include cholera, diphtheria, plague, smallpox, Ebola, and pandemic flu, etc.) measles could be added by a Presidential Executive Order. Still, the authority to issue Federal Quarantines has rarely been used. Quarantines for measles is usually handled by states and local governments.
  2. Supposed to be protected anyway??? There are plenty of infants, children, and adults who simply can’t be directly protected by a vaccine. They are too young to be vaccinated, can’t be vaccinated because they have true medical contraindications, or could be among the very small minority for whom their vaccine wasn’t effective. They are at risk when your intentionally unvaccinated child gets measles.
  3. The vaccination rates for everyone in the Rockland outbreak is posted and is updated weekly. Only 3.8% of the folks in the outbreak are fully vaccinated.
  4. Since almost all of the folks in the outbreak are unvaccinated, that kind of busts John Stone’s last point – the Rockland measles outbreak has been caused by waning immunity and a failed vaccine. It is simply a failure of folks to vaccinate and protect their kids.

I get that The BMJ wants their “users to debate issues raised in articles published on bmj.com,” but they are simply contributing to the false balance we see in many other places if they want to allow folks to think there is a debate going on about the safety or necessity of vaccines.

More on Anti-Vaccine Propaganda in The BMJ

Did New York Declare Medical Martial Law over a Measles Outbreak?

You have to admire anti-vaccine folks for one thing, they are consistent.

Well, actually, no.

Admire is the wrong word…

Did New York Declare Medical Martial Law over a Measles Outbreak?

As most folks know, Rockland County Executive Ed Day made an emergency declaration banning unvaccinated kids from public places.

I guess because he was anticipating a freak-out from anti-vaccine folks, he went out of his way to say that the emergency declaration does not mean that law enforcement will be asking for vaccine records and that they are just trying to get the attention of parents, some of whom weren’t cooperating when their kids were sick.

So what was the reaction?

About as you would expect…

Martial law?

Medical martial law? An emergency declaration saying you will get a class B misdemeanor if your unvaccinated kid goes to the mall is the same thing as martial law? Ordinary laws have been suspended and the military is taking over?

If you listened to the press conference, the problem isn’t really that we need new laws, it is that some folks aren’t cooperating with existing ones. Again, in the middle of the longest outbreak in recent history, some parents who have kids sick with measles aren’t talking to health department officials who simply want to control and stop the outbreak.

What else is wrong with the Natural News post?

Of course, it is the stuff about shedding and “improperly weakened viral strains.”

In truth, measles outbreaks are started when unvaccinated folks travel out of the country, get measles, and bring it back to a community with a lot of other unvaccinated people. And tragically, sometimes folks who are too young to be vaccinated or who have true medical contraindications to getting vaccinated get caught up in these outbreaks.

Did they listen to the press conference? When did he say that they would be going door-to-door?

Hillary Simpson telling folks in New York to riot.

Is it actually legal to tell folks to riot and incite them to open civil disobedience?

Kate Tietje calling for open civil disobedience.

Surpriginsly, most went to straight to comments about Hitler and concentration camps.

It is offensive to compare the emergency declaration in Rockland county to putting people in concentration camps.
It is offensive to compare the emergency declaration in Rockland county to putting people in concentration camps.

This is the modern anti-vaccine movement.

These are the leaders and heroes of the anti-vaccine movement.

Larry Cook on the emergency ban in Rockland County.

To be clear, rabbis in the community have been telling folks to get vaccinated and protected!

“Whoever isn’t vaccinated is a murderer” reads a rabbinic letter recently signed by leading charedi rabbis in Israel, according to Yeshiva World News. The kol koreh was distributed after a spread of Measles in the ultra-Orthodox communities in Israel and around the world. Earlier this month an unvaccinated infant died, and more than 1300 people have been infected with a preventable disease. The Gedolim who signed the Kol Koreh include: Rav Yitzchak Silberstein, Rav Shimon Ba’adani, Rav Sriel Rosenberg, Rav Moshe Shaul Klein Rav Menachem Mendel Lubin.

As Measles Spread, Leading Charedi Rabbis Come Out Strongly Against Anti-Vaxxers

I wonder what the people in these communities would think of all of this holocaust imagery that anti-vaccine folks are using to try and keep the outbreaks going?

The National Vaccine Information Center is exploiting a photo of five year old Avram Rosenthal and his two year old brother Emanuel of the Kovno ghetto in Lithuania. Both boys were later deported to the death camp at Majdanek where they were murdered.
This is a photo of five year old Avram Rosenthal and his two year old brother Emanuel of the Kovno ghetto in Lithuania. Both boys were later deported to the death camp at Majdanek where they were murdered. Why is it being used in an article about measles outbreaks?

It is very clear that this is not about religion.

“The Orthodox Union (OU) and the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) strongly urge all parents to vaccinate their healthy children on the timetable recommended by their pediatrician.”

Statement on Vaccinations from the OU and Rabbinical Council of America

People in these communities have been misled and misinformed by anti-vaccine propaganda.

How about we make folks who push anti-vaccine misinformation wear dunce caps?
How about dunce caps on folks who push anti-vaccine misinformation?

Don’t let them make it worse.

More on the Emergency Declaration in Rockland County