The greater Monsey community hosted an event last week at the Atrium, endorsed by numerous leading chessed organizations, offering a wealth of education and literature on the importance of vaccinations and how it can keep our children safe and literally save lives. And yet, any and all coverage of this event practically screamed the same headline from one local news source, which was then copied and reproduced by dozens of other news outlets: “Less than 150 women attend Monsey vaccine forum that sought to counter misinformation.” As the headline implies, what they want people to know is that a lot less people than were expected showed up to the event.
The story goes on to report, “The women’s only event was hosted by a coalition of pro-vaccine Orthodox Jewish groups Monday night at the Atrium, a catering hall that seats 1,500 people that was the site of an anti-vaccine symposium attended by hundreds last month.” Every Jewish and non-Jewish news outlet (that I could find) all reported the same sad story about how the anti-vaxxer event held a month ago in the same venue, was attended by hundreds of people, whereas this event was sparsely attended. It was meant to promote the harmful notion that in the Monsey area, where the Measles outbreak has hit hard, it is clear that most people do not vaccinate and do not believe in the benefits of vaccination. This makes the Jewish community look primitive and self-inflicting, and there is good reason why the gentiles should dislike and distrust us.
How ignorant and ridiculous is this argument? Anyone with a half a brain in their head can realize that the reason why less people showed up to the event last week is because they already are educated and recognize the importance of vaccination! Over 90% of the Monsey community doesn’t need to receive this education because they listen to their Rabbanim and doctors and already know that they should get vaccinated. It is the tiny minority of anti-vaxxers who feel they have something to prove to the world, who wish to promote a ridiculous notion that they know better than the Torah world as well as the medical world, and therefore they come out in droves to attend a secret symposium where they can all pat themselves on the back and listen to quacks, fakes and other discredited loons, lecture about nonsensical studies which have no basis in anything remotely scientific or medical. It sounds good, but it is totally baseless.
When will the news stop sensationalizing what is clearly a non-story? This is Fake News at it’s best and should be called out for what it really is. Joel Petlin Superintendent of the Kiryas Joel School District said it best when he tweeted, “Vaxxers don’t need validation of their decision and anti-vaxxers are too busy with conspiracy theories to hear from real experts. So I’m pleased that nearly 150 open-minded women chose to be educated last night on the importance of vaccines in preventing the spread of measles.”
(By Rabbi Dovid Hoffman – Editor of the Monsey Mevaser)