Anti-Vaxxers and Halacha

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vaacn[By Rabbi Yair Hoffman]

They are known as the “anti-vaxxers,” and leading medical experts in the United States claim they are putting the nation at risk. Who are these anti-vaccine advocates? From where did they originate and what do they want? And what does halachah have to say about the issue?

There is a biblical mitzvah of taking safety precautions, as the verse states, “V’nishmartem me’od l’nafshoseichem” (Devarim 4:15). Should the view of the anti-vaxxers set aside this Torah mitzvah? Are there other possible mitzvos involved here as well? And, finally, are vaccinations obligatory?

As of this writing, February 2015, there are over 120 cases of measles in the United States, stemming from an outbreak that began in Disneyland in Anaheim, California. There are approximately 20 million cases of measles each year. In 2013, close to 150,000 people worldwide died of measles. According to Time magazine, one in ten Americans believe that the vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) is not safe for healthy children. This is terribly sad, because measles was eliminated from the United States in the year 2000; the outbreaks come from abroad. The virus is highly contagious and can remain in the air many hours after an infected person has left the room.

It’s also not a harmless, risk-free disease. Aside from the risks of pneumonia and encephalitis and possible fatal consequences, measles can cause deafness and can be extremely painful, too. Pregnant women who contract the disease are more likely to miscarry, and cancer patients with weakened immune systems are placed at grave risk.

Many anti-vaxxers have not vaccinated their children, and some have actually fudged the documentation about it to allow their children into schools and camps that would otherwise not accept them. Senator John McCain has been among the anti-vaxxers, and it has even been reported that there is a leading gadol b’Yisrael among them.

Anti-vaxxers have not only entered Disneyland; they are in our yeshivos and day schools, too. Last year there were outbreaks in Brooklyn and in Monsey, two vibrant Orthodox Jewish communities. The fact that these outbreaks occurred in religious Jewish communities is also cause for chillul Hashem. The following is a historical overview, followed by a halachic analysis of the topic.

How It Started

The anti-vaxxers have two concerns that are often intertwined. The first is the MMR vaccine itself. They believe that there is some heretofore unidentified element in it that causes autism. The second is that some vaccines contained the preservative thimerosal, which contained ethyl mercury, a type of mercury that had been suspected of causing autism. Thimerosal has actually been removed from the MMR vaccine with no accompanying drop in the incidence of autism. No matter; this has not impacted the anti-vaxxer movement.

The MMR vaccine is given twice. The first dose is administered to infants between 12 and 15 months of age and the second vaccine is given between the ages of 4 and 6.

The impetus for the growth of the anti-vaxxer movement initially came from a 1998 study published in the February 28 edition of the Lancet by Andrew Wakefield, a gastroenterologist, and 11 colleagues. The Lancet is a highly prestigious medical journal published in England. The study supposedly linked autism in children to the MMR vaccine. The Lancet article also said that autism has origins in the gastrointestinal systems of children.

Wakefield then made a tour of the United States in the fall of 1998, and in that tour he gave an interview at a “Defeat Autism Now” conference. In the interview, he conflated his own patients with those mentioned in his study. Wakefield had treated patients with diarrhea who did not have autism. He had conflated them with autistic patients that he had never seen or treated. In November 2000, Wakefield even appeared on CBS’s 60 Minutes.

The combination of the article, the tour of U.S.-based autism groups, and Wakefield’s appearance on 60 Minutes caused a storm in both the medical and parenting worlds.
Doctors questioned how a serious study could have used such a small sample size (there were 12 subjects) to make such a revolutionary claim about vaccines that have been around for a half-century. They further questioned the uncontrolled nature and design of the study.

The main criticism expressed by many, however, was the fact that there was a serious logical fallacy at play. The Latin expression of this fallacy is “post hoc ergo propter hoc,” meaning that we infer that subsequent events are caused by prior events. But this is not necessarily so; just because event Y happens after event X, it doesn’t mean that Y is caused by X. An oft-cited example of this fallacy is that the rooster crows immediately before sunrise; therefore, the rooster causes the sun to rise. Autism is not detected at birth. It is generally not officially diagnosed until shortly after the time that one normally gives the second MMR vaccine, between 4 and 6 years of age.

Parents took action by refusing to vaccinate their children and creating a distrust of the medical community’s public policies on vaccination. Within a very short time, the United States experienced a 300% increase in people who were not vaccinating their children. All this with no proof.

Further Developments

In the March 6, 2004 edition of the Lancet, 10 of the 12 Wakefield co-authors published a retraction of their interpretation of the data. The Lancet editors also admitted that Wakefield had failed to disclose something crucial: Wakefield was being funded by lawyers who were representing parents in lawsuits against the companies that produce vaccines. (They eventually lost the lawsuit, but not for lack of trying.)

This information had been revealed by British journalist Brian Deer. Deer went on to win awards for his investigations, which also prompted an ethics-violation query by the British government. Apparently, since 1996, two years before he published the study, Wakefield had been receiving funding from Mr. Richard Barr of Alexander Harris Solicitors, one of the leading law firms in Luton, Bedfordshire. Barr had been funding Wakefield through the UK Legal Aid Fund, which paid bills submitted by a company owned by Wakefield’s wife. Wakefield had received the astounding sum of $750,000 (or rather its British pound equivalent) from Barr’s efforts. Another lawyer organization was funding Wakefield as well.

Almost six years later, in February 2010, the Lancet finally retracted the original 1998 article in its entirety. This time the editors stated that Wakefield was, in fact, guilty of scientific misrepresentation. Wakefield had stated in his initial article that the sampling was consecutive, when in fact it was selective. Wakefield was cherry-picking his results, seriously skewing any true analysis of the data.

The Great Damage Done

The damage done by the Wakefield article, the 60 Minutes segment, and the hoopla generated by it all has entrenched itself into our society so that people are dubious of vaccinations. This has led to the outbreak of measles at Disneyland and can further endanger the nation. The statistic of 1 in 10 Americans is no laughing matter.

In the 17 years since the publication of Wakefield’s article, dozens of legitimate studies have been conducted that show that there is no correlation between autism and vaccinations. Thimerosal has been eliminated in this country and there is still no lowering of the incidence of autism. What has happened is that we have expanded our definition of autism and autism-like symptoms.

Benefits Of Vaccines

Historically, public policies of widespread vaccination have saved countless lives. In the late 1790s, Edward Janner noticed something remarkable about milkmaids. For some reason, they were immune to smallpox. Janner realized that anyone who was exposed to cowpox developed immunity to smallpox. In 1798, he developed and promulgated a vaccine for smallpox that saved millions of lives. The author of the Tiferes Yisrael begged and pleaded that people take the vaccine, calling Janner one of the chassidei umos ha’olam, righteous gentiles of the world.

Smallpox has killed over 300 million people. It was eradicated completely because of vaccination programs, and the last smallpox-related death was in 1978. In the early 1800s, vaccines did not have preservatives and some of them were tainted. Now the vaccines are much safer.

Mitzvos Involved

It is this author’s contention that vaccinations involve the fulfillment of a number of Torah mitzvos, aside from the basic mitzvah of v’nishmartem mentioned at the beginning of this article. We must also make sure that we not allow the greedy actions of others to adversely affect our health, the health of our children, and the fulfillment of our Torah obligations. We should also make our best efforts not to allow misinformation and fraud to affect crucial decisions in our lives.

Hashavas Aveidah. The verse in Parashas Ki Seitzei (Devarim 22:2) discusses the mitzvah of hashavas aveidah, returning a lost object, with the words, “V’hasheivoso lo,” “and you shall return it to him.” The Gemara in Sanhedrin (73a), however, includes within its understanding of these words the obligation of returning “his own life to him as well.” For example, if thieves are threatening to pounce upon him, there is an obligation of “V’hasheivoso lo.” In other words, this verse is the source for the mitzvah of saving someone’s life. It is highly probable that it is to this general mitzvah that the Shulchan Aruch refers in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 325. This is certainly the case with vaccinations, because vaccinations save lives.

‘Thy Brother’s Blood.’ There is a negative mitzvah of not standing idly by your brother’s blood— “Lo sa’amod al dam rei’echa” (Vayikra 19:16). This is mentioned in Shulchan Aruch (C.M. 426:1) and in the Rambam. When people get sick and chance death because of our inaction, we are violating the commandment of “Lo sa’amod al dam rei’echa.”

‘Lo Suchal L’hisalem.’ There is yet another negative commandment associated with the positive commandment of hashavas aveidah, and that is the verse in Devarim (22:3), “You cannot shut your eyes to it.” This verse comes directly after the mitzvah of hashavas aveidah. The Netziv, Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Yehudah Berlin, in his HeEmek She’eilah, refers to this mitzvah as well.

‘V’chai Achicha Imach.’ The She’iltos (She’ilta #37), based upon the Gemara in Bava Metzia 62a, understands the words in Vayikra (25:36), “v’chai achicha imach,” “and your brother shall live with you,” to indicate an obligation to save others with you. The Netziv in his HeEmek She’eilah understands it as a full-fledged obligation according to all opinions. He writes that one must exert every effort to save his friend’s life, until it becomes a matter of pikuach nefesh for himself. The Netziv’s position would certainly advocate that vaccinations are obligatory, even if it involves a slight danger—which in modern times has been virtually eliminated.

‘V’ahavta L’rei’acha Kamocha.’ The Ramban, in Toras HaAdam Sha’ar HaSakanah (pp. 42–43), understands the verse of “And love thy neighbor as yourself” as a directive to save our peers from medical danger as well. We thus have a total of six Torah mitzvos involved in vaccinating our children.

Is It Obligatory?

It seems that in a situation where there is concern for an epidemic, poskim have ruled that vaccination is obligatory. (See Minchas Tzvi, siman 9, and Rabbi Eliezer Yehudah Waldenberg, zt’l, in Tzitz Eliezer, and Rav Yitzchok Zilberstein, shlita). How effective is the vaccine? With two shots, the efficacy rate for the MMR vaccine reaches 97%.

What about the issue that there will invariably be people with allergic and or other negative reactions to vaccinations? The language of the Shach (Y.D. 336:1) is informative. He writes that a doctor should not say, “What do I need this anguish for if I err and unintentionally kill a patient?” One could perhaps extrapolate from the words of the Shach that we should do whatever we can to ensure that the population is protected through proper vaccination.

In Teves of 5745 (winter 1984–1985), the Steipler Gaon was asked about a case where the measles vaccine was apparently problematic. He advised them to make sure that the next batch was problem-free and instructed them to take the vaccine (Orchos Rabbeinu, p. 350).

Should one violate Shabbos for a vaccination? Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt’l (Shulchan Shlomo 329:1, 2) has a fascinating definition for what constitutes safek pikuach nefesh, possible risk to life. He writes that if from a sociological perspective people are not rushing to get the vaccination as soon as possible, then it is not considered enough of a danger to warrant Shabbos violation. He writes that this is the case even if there is an actual danger.

What about the rabbinic views that there may be substance to the anti-vaxxer view? Carefully researching the data behind a halachic question can be daunting at times. Occasionally, though rarely, the background information behind a question may not be sufficiently researched because the gadol or posek relied upon someone else, who did not properly weigh the issue or evidence. In recent years we have seen this when gedolei Torah reversed their rulings on the proper berachah for cashews; whether bran is considered animal food; and whether people can distinguish between pasteurized and unpasteurized wine.

Leading gedolim with whom this author has consulted in recent months—Rav Chaim Kanievsky, shlita, and a leading gadol in the United States—have said that when someone has done the research and is sure that the background information behind a p’sak is faulty, there is an obligation to respectfully publicize the correct information.

It is this author’s hope that the information in this article will help serve to protect us all from illness. Amen.

The author can be reached at [email protected]

ARTICLE PUBLISHED BY 5TJT




44 COMMENTS

  1. With all due respect, what research have you done on the safety and effectiveness of vaccines? When I made my decision twenty years ago to stop vaccinating after my son had serious reactions to vaccines, I researched the matter in back issues of JAMA and other prominent medical journals. What bothered me was the lack of scientific data proving the safety of vaccines. When I read time after time in medical journals of cases where previously healthy children died within 48 hours of receiving vaccines (notably the DTP shot), and all the researchers could say was “there was no correlation,” I lost confidence that “the benefits outweigh the risks,” as the mantra goes. It is irresponsible to ignore the serious questions about vaccine safety.

    Also, I have noticed that ALL the articles on this issue are focusing ONLY on this one discredited Lancet study. There were serious questions about vaccine safety long before that study was published, and there are many other proper MDs (NOT including internet quacks, of whom, unfortunately, there are also many) who question the blind assertion (all too often promulgated in studies funded by the vaccine manufacturers themselves) that the vaccines are safe.

    My family practices v’nishmarta me’od l’nafshoseichem by NOT injecting our children with toxic substances of unproven long-term (or even short-term) safety.

  2. Rav Shmuel Kaminetzky said, “I see vaccinations as the problem. It’s a hoax. Even the Salk vaccine is a hoax. It is just big business.”

    Daas torah beats science any day.

  3. A recent study revealed that the more vaccines that children receive containing the adjuvant aluminum, the greater their chance is of developing autism, autoimmune diseases and neurological problems in the future.

    It is clear that the CDC cannot be trusted when it comes to giving
    advice about vaccinations. Over the years, evidence has shown that the CDC continually lies, withholds evidence and fixes data to obtain the results that they want to achieve.

  4. Dr Yair Hoffman,
    Mazel Tov on your new position as Advocate for the White House in Washington.
    There is a massive voice out there against Vaccination.
    The FDA states on thier website that vaccination is mdication.
    Why are we medicating our kids & filling thier precious blood-stream with so much filth & poisons?
    If you believe vaccines work, what are you so nervous about? What can the unvaccinated healthy kids do already? Arent the vaccinated protected?
    The answer is the Government is running our lives & we are afraid to fight or just have no time. We may loose our programs? Its all about $ & political pressure. I feel like I send my kids to a doctors office when I send them to school everyday. The schools are all advocating for the corrupt health dept. Cuz they have to! They are being threatened to loose funding if they dont show a 100% vacination rate amongst the students. Is the administrator or principle up to date? Trust me, they are not. Just drug up the kids & get as much funding as possible. Get informed & research what the doctors are doing to our kids because of political pressure. Much more people are realizing these days that vaccines are no good & thats why we are being attacked so much. We are just getting stronger!

  5. Thank you to those posting comments. The mainstream media keeps on harping on Wakefield, like he is the only one ever to doubt vaccines. The same mainstream cries tears over the poor oppressed Palestinian under the Israeli jackboot, metzitzah b’peh, and don’t even mention G-d vs. evolution to them. There is 60 years plus of serious questions concerning vaccines and there are many things to do to boost our immune systems in the face of these illnesses. If we educate ourselves to healthier living we will be healthier, happier, lower our medical bills and put a bunch of pharm corp execs out of business.

  6. These are the side effects from the MMR taken from the CDC website. DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH how about the long term seizures or brain damage. Who is signing up for their children Brain Damage?

    MMR vaccine side-effects
    (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella)

    What are the risks from MMR vaccine?

    A vaccine, like any medicine, is capable of causing serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions.

    The risk of MMR vaccine causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small.

    Getting MMR vaccine is much safer than getting measles, mumps or rubella.

    Most people who get MMR vaccine do not have any serious problems with it.

    Mild Problems
    • Fever (up to 1 person out of 6)
    • Mild rash (about 1 person out of 20)
    • Swelling of glands in the cheeks or neck (about 1 person out of 75)

    If these problems occur, it is usually within 7-12 days after the shot. They occur less often after the second dose.

    Moderate Problems
    • Seizure (jerking or staring) caused by fever (about 1 out of 3,000 doses)
    • Temporary pain and stiffness in the joints, mostly in teenage or adult women (up to 1 out of 4)
    • Temporary low platelet count, which can cause a bleeding disorder (about 1 out of 30,000 doses)

    Severe Problems (Very Rare)
    • Serious allergic reaction (less than 1 out of a million doses)
    • Several other severe problems have been reported after a child gets MMR vaccine, including: ◦ Deafness
    ◦ Long-term seizures, coma, or lowered consciousness
    ◦Permanent brain damage

    These are so rare that it is hard to tell whether they are caused by the vaccine.

    This information was taken directly from the MMR VIS
    (This information taken from MMR VIS dated 4/20/12. If the actual VIS is more recent than this date, the information on this page needs to be updated.)

  7. If the medical community and drug companies (who make billions off vaccines) are so sure about the safety, why don’t they simply take 1000 children who are from pro-vaccinated families and another 1000 children from anti-vaccine families and follow how many live and how many die from these diseases, how many develop autism and how many not. How many get injured or develop cancer or learning disabilites etc etc..so we can weight the benefits against the risk. Answer is simple: There is too much money to lose so they would never make such a study. There are special courts that have paid out billions of dollars for vaccine injuries. Everyone should do their own research and reach their own conclusion about the benefits vs. the risk. Hashem will not punish someone for making a wrong decision, but perhaps if a person does not take the responsibility to research something so important…………..

  8. “there is an obligation to respectfully publicize the correct information.”

    1) What if the p’sak was NOT to not vaccinate, but only that one may not deny those who did not vaccinate registration in a school?
    2) Since I doubt any poskim are reading these very well written and informative pieces, which I enjoy and appreciate seeing, reading, and sharing, have they been contacted in order to “respectfully publicize the correct information?”

  9. No No No R’ Hoffman ! Measles outbreaks come from letting 5,000,0000 diseased, central american alien children in our midst (sorry, R’Hoffman-you and I don’t get to know where theyve been charitably placed)who are exposed to all -and vaccinated from nothing !

  10. The main advocate of vaccines here in Lakewood is Dr. Shanik. Six months ago he was asked about safety etc,. and he said he doesn’t have time to research and he depends on the decision of his former partner Dr. Fenster. When Dr. Fenster is asked, he defers to a book written by Dr. Offit. Google Dr. Offit and cbsnews and find out how this doctor made millions off vaccines….
    Regarding his halachic analaysis: My friend asked Reb Chaim Kanievsky about vaccines to which he answered “חיסון? שטותים” (Vaccinnes? Stupidies!). Reb Elya Ber Wachtfogel is also against them as he asserts that he knows first hand about the damage done to a family member. Rabbi Hoffman writes: “Occasionally, though rarely, the background information behind a question may not be sufficiently researched because the gadol or posek relied upon someone else, who did not properly weigh the issue or evidence”. This is absurd as this goes both ways ! Perhaps the gedolim that permit it are depending on the likes of Dr. Shanik who depends on Dr. Fenster who depends on Dr. PrOFIT!!

  11. To Jerusalem Reader (Comment 1).

    If you are going to use JAMA as an argument, please post which study you are referring to, since a quick google search only shows a JAMA published studies showing that there has been studies done, with groups of children with and without the vaccine with no increase in the occurrence of autism in any group.

    What you decided over 20 years ago, should not be a factor, nor should we use outdated science.

    As to why everyone is on the one discredited study, that is because all there is to the MMR controversy, is this one study. If we knew in 1998 what we know today about Wakefield and his ‘study’ there would be no controversy.

  12. Step Aside,

    Would you mind posting which study that is?

    besides there is NO aluminum in the vaccines.

    Nothing is perfect, but who DO you trust with regards to medicine?

  13. NachumB (Comment 5)

    How dare you make such statements without providing your sources?

    Really?! Do you have access to the ‘over 60 studies’? can you please share them?

    I can share with you studies PROVING that there is no relationship between MMR and autism. Its the age of information, everyone can have easy access to publications such as the lancet, pediatrics, American Academy of Pediatrics.

  14. I have no particular stake in this fight, but have been looking into the issue as a result of the recent coverage.

    #1-20 years ago the field was very different. The court case involving Richard Barr in the UK was only just starting for example–the famous and oft-quoted (by both sides!) Wakefield study had not even been published yet… A cursory look at Wikipedia shows that anti-vaccine movements and arguments have evolved over time. Research from 20 years ago doesn’t necessarily relate to the objections raised today (or their responses from the various medical associations).

    You are correct that Wakefield/Lancet are the focus of the media’s attention, but that is because it was very instrumental in bringing it to the fore of popular discussion. It is probably the most well-known of all the studies.

    #3-Kindly post a link to the study you mentioned so we can read about it, please.

    #4-The concern is about the people who are unable to be vaccinated and are relying on herd immunity.

    #7-I’m not sure I understand what you are implicitly claiming as I’m sure you know that there has been an enormous amount of research done on the subject. A Google search can easily lead you to a page with a list of 107 stdies on the topic.

  15. 2scents (comment # 11): I no longer have the citation for the studies I looked at 20 years ago, but here’s a current citation from Merck’s information sheet on its MMR II vaccine:

    “Death from various, and in some cases unknown, causes has been reported rarely following vaccination with measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines; however, a causal relationship has not been established in healthy individuals.”

    (Google Merck MMR II vaccine and it should be your first search result.)

    This is exactly the kind of dismissive statement that bothered me so much in those medical journals. They simply say that causality is not established and leave it at that.

    By the way, if you look at that Merck flyer, have a gander at the pages-long list of potential adverse reactions. Death is only the final (as it were) entry in the list.

  16. 2scents (comment 12): Google the information sheet called “Vaccine Excipient & Media Summary Excipients Included in U.S. Vaccines, by Vaccine.” This is a publication from the CDC. It shows that in fact aluminum is an ingredient in numerous vaccines. Also formaldehyde. Also monkey kidney cells. Check it out.

  17. G-t en Himmel there is quite a bit of ignorance in this comment section.

    No matter how many questions you have and no matter what you’ve read one fact remains: The benefits outweigh the risks. For one, in most cases the risks are vanishingly small.

    Second, the benefits involve things like, not having massive amounts of deaths amongst seniors, people on chemotherapy, infants, unborn children and people with anti-immune disorders who can literally die from having measles.

    Only seventy years ago people regularly had their limbs die and their lungs collapse due to polio. Thanks to VACCINATIONS that is no longer the case.

    No matter how many questions you may have about MMR or other immunizations, it’s a very clear case in the medical and halachic community that vaccines are a must for children. There’s less than a handful of doctors out there who oppose vaccinations, and there’s only one Rav who made a comment and not a psak Halacha (and whose own grandchildren and great-grandchildren get immunized).

    Parents who refuse immunization should have their children banned from Yeshivos, lest the R”L bring in horrific diseases that can be passed to children with cancer. Well, let me restate that. Parents who refuse to immunize clearly do not think logically and have no right to be the caretakers of precious neshomos.

  18. To add to my previous comment, many families who don’t immunize instead rely on unproven “alternative” or “natural” remedies. As opposed to standard medications, alternative remedies do not fall under FDA guidance for the most part. All sorts of dangerous chemicals and extracts can be part of the formula and they do not have to show that it’s safe.

    Furthermore, the companies that push these therapies are just as money grubbing as any other company and have every incentive (and less government and scientific oversight) to lie through their teeth. A recent study showed that many of these “organic alternatives” did not even contain the ingredients that the claimed, instead filling bottles with powdered beans and rice.

  19. I believe that parents who don’t want to vaccinate their kids shouldnt expect the samentreatment and their kids should be given the decision by age 16

    Why expose my kids with viruses even though he’s vaccinated

  20. If you believe absolutely in the benefit and protective value of vaccination, why does it matter what others do? Or don’t do? If you believe you need vaccination to be healthy and protected, then by all means vaccinate your child and yourself. Why should you even be concerned what your neighbor chooses to do for his child — if vaccination works? The idea of herd immunity is still based on the idea that in individual cases vaccines actually are protectiveIf you think the government has the right to forcibly vaccinate people for the good of society — what is to prevent them from forcibly sterilizing people, or forcibly euthanizing people, or forcibly implanting a tracking device — for the good of society? You make think those examples are extreme (although two-thirds have happened), but the principle is the same. You are allowing government to have ultimate authority over your body.

  21. Missing from the national conversation on vaccines, which is escalating due to media-driven hysteria over measles, are any viewpoints that deviate from the official story. Reporters, columnists, doctors, scientists and others who agree with the myth that vaccines are safe and effective are the only ones being given a voice.

    The truth of the matter is that childhood measles isn’t much of a threat, especially when a child is given proper nutrition. Mild measles infection, like childhood chickenpox, is essential for establishing lifelong immunity to the disease, something that the measles vaccines not only can’t accomplish but prevents from ever occurring.

  22. I made an account just to combat the ignorance in these comments here. To all of you giving the “Well your kids are vaccinated and safe anyway argument”: As others have mentioned there are many people (immunosuppressed population) that are unable to be vaccinated for various reasons, and rely on us to protect them from the spread of infectious disease. Also (and possibly more important) there is a concept in immunology called antigenic shift (and antigenic drift, which is slightly different but the same idea). What this means is that viruses (and to a lesser degree, bacteria) replicate so quickly and often that they sometimes produce “new strains” that our current immunity may not be protective against. If C’V people stop vaccinating and are foolish enough to allow their children to be exposed to these horrible diseases, the viruses can potentially mutate enough to infect healthy populations as well! (Although this most likely will not apply to certain toxoid vaccines like DTapP but still possible, just less likely) That is another reason to be concerned as the mishugoyim not protecting their children.
    Next point: To whomever is foolish enough to not understand that vaccines work: n 1920, 469,924 measles cases were reported, and 7575 patients died; 147,991 diphtheria cases were reported, and 13,170 patients died, 107,473 pertussis cases were reported, and 5099 patients died. (From the CDC website, these are all publicly available numbers). that was in 1 year!!!!!!! How many people do you know that still die from these machlos? No one! because we have vaccines Thank G-D! Why would anyone be foolish enough to take one of the greatest advancements and gifts we have been given and throw it out is beyond me!
    Illustrative point: Imagine if someone’s child got sick with strep C’V. We can easily treat strep these days with antibiotics. True there are some mild side effects and rarely someone can even have a serious allergic reaction, but of course no sane person would refuse this treatment knowing that the disease can progress to Scarlet fever and/or endocarditis! Not vaccinating is even worse!
    People these days are so spoiled and do not understand the gravity and destruction caused by these diseases in the past. I only know what I learned about them from medical school because Thank G-D I never saw one of these horrible diseases due to vaccination (how R’ Shmuel Kaminetzsky could say they are a scam is beyond me, must be he is being misquoted or did not have the right information).
    One last note: ask your grandparents about friends or relatives that suffered through these diseases. I will bet you if they are old enough they know people that DIED from them. My grandparents told me about how excited they were when they came to America and had the opportunity to have their children get vaccinated so they could have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that their children were protected.
    Please, I beg you to stop this nonsense!

  23. I just wanna say how right Yserbius is. One of the main reasons you should vaccinate your kids is to protect other who cannot be vaccinated such as people with cancer, infants, old people and pregnant women. Those who ignore this are just plain SELFISH! I work with children with low immune systems every day and for the sake of them you should vaccinate your kids. Would you want to be responsible for a calamity c”v??? The benefits definitely outweigh the risks.

  24. “When someone has done the research and is sure that the background information behind a p’sak is faulty, there is an obligation to respectfully publicize the correct information”?

    And what happened by the O.J.? When all the experts researched and provided the correct information, they were ignored and shut-out…

  25. I am sorry to say that this has been one of the most biased, unsubstantiated articles I have ever read. It would be good if you could at least make an attempt to research both sides. It sounds like you have a vendetta against “anti-vaxxers”.
    Re: Yserbius’s comments, you too have not researched anything. The reason anti-vaxxers are around is because innocent children have either died or been damaged for life. And vaccines are NOT what eradicated polio and other diseases- if you read the reports, incidences of these diseases were steadily declining for several years right before vaccines were introduced.
    the drug companies took credit for the decline, but it has been proven that the change came about because of increased levels of cleanliness/sanitation (indoor plumbing, etc).
    Vaccines are FULL OF TOXINS and in other parts of the world where they give vaccines, they at least wait till kids are older, so there is no serious damage to their immune system and health!
    CHECK IT OUT- PLEASE!

  26. #23 @vaccinated:

    It matters an awful lot what others do as there are human beings who cannot be immunized, such as infants, elderly people and those undergoing chemo. If C”V someone would have measles and come in contact with one of those people, it could R”L be disastrous, even deadly!

    While creating a law forcing parents to vaccinate may be a little too much, there should absolutely be a law that if a parent chooses not to immunize, their child cannot mingle with others and must be home schooled and kept out of shul.

  27. Jewish children will die as the result of parents following the junk science being promoted here. And the chilul HaShem from more outbreaks of preventable disease will be massive. We are just as bad as the backward Muslims in parts of Africa and Asia who have also bought into the vaccine conspiracy theories and expelled the aid workers who were vaccinating the population. I am ashamed at my fellow orthodox Jews.

  28. For all of you who still don’t believe that vaccines cause autism , and dismiss it even when you do see it, why don’t you extract the original study from the CDC from 2001by Dr William Thompson. He coauthor a paper that “proved” that vaccines don’t cause autism. On July 28 ,2014 he came out and stated that he was sorry for hiding the truth . This study actually proved that the MMR vaccines do increase the chance of autism by 240percent. Dr hooker had this confession taped and now dr Thompson gained immunity and can speak in court about the original finding. his coauthor Colleen Boyle , changed the data so that it suits the industry and keep you people in the dark. So you are all parroting the same silly finding by dr Wakefield and don’t even realize how you are the ones being used to fulfill the agenda.

    Now with the information out will anyone educate the public with the truth, as was clearly the p’sak, or will they continue to hide and cover it up like all the doctors that work on behalf of the big pharma? I can’t imagine any doctor saying the truth since their livelihood depends on it. And these are the people klal yisroel listen to when it comes to their child’s health? How sad and corrupt is this industry
    . How interesting is it that no one is afraid of the Norwalk virus, the rio virus or cytomegalovirus, they are only afraid of anything that has a vaccine attached to it. This is how they control the public, through fear.

    Just remember ,Hashem created these bacterial and viruses for our good. If you don’t see the good in it , then you need to build up your Emunah . This idea that a vaccine, which is poison can ” protect” you makes no sense but people believe in this new religion where all the drugs and vaccines will be our savior. Since when is the one who protects us and saves us a vaccine? Is there a problem to rely on Hashem for protection?

    Autism, a life long disorder , and cancer which is a devastating illness , are some of the side effects of vaccines, but measles, a minor illness , which is gone in a week is what we focus on?

    We poison our children with vaccines and then we want miracle for them to have good health. Follow the Rambams guide to eating because Good health comes from a clean healthy inside not from a dirty vaccine needle.

  29. #19-“Parents who refuse to immunize clearly do not think logically”
    Adam posel b’mumo posel. The one claim that irks me more than anything in these forums is the illogical to the point of stupidity claim that because previous (such as polio and smallpox) vaccines worked, all vaccines work. Each vaccine has different ingredients and each disease is different.

  30. Vaccinated, it’s because the vaccinations are not 100% efffective. It’s close but not perfect. The herd immunity, if achieved, means that the disease cannot take hold and threaten even those who’s vaccination is not totaly protecting them. The unvaccinated (children or anyone else) are a threat to the rest of the population.

  31. At vaccinated

    There are people out there who are unable to get vaccinated for other reasons than they just don’t want to. Therefore they are more at risk by people who simply are selfish. The vaccine works to prevent an outbreak if 95% are vaccinated(that is just the published math).

    At Jerusalem reader,

    Vaccinate or don’t vaccinate they’re your kids treat them how you wish.Just keep them at home and out of our schools and neighborhoods. Remember the saying guns don’t kill people, people kill people? Unload your weapon!

  32. Hey YWN!

    Why are you not allowinh more comments here??
    23 comments only since yesterday afternoon. Strange on your part indeed!
    I woud imagine there should he over 50 right now. Please allow for more comments on this thread. This is a boiling topic these days. Then voice against vaccinations has never been so strong, ever. Its just getting much more stronger! Vaccines is the biggest hoax in US history. People all over are realizing more & more

  33. As it does every winter, the Israeli Health Ministry is campaigning heavily to persuade the public to get vaccinated against the flu. Nearly one and a half million people have taken the shot this season, the ministry says. Yet resistance is rearing its head – among doctors and nurses, of all people.

    The underlying irony is that while an overwhelming majority of doctors tout the benefits of inoculation for the general public, only 35 percent of medical practitioners get immunized themselves, the Health Ministry admits.

    At least they’re in good company – studies done in Europe and the United States show similar scorn for the shot among doctors and nurses, ascribed to a combination of “personal attitude” and misinformation. At least in the United States, the situation is changing: now due to regulatory changes, somewhere between 80 to 90 percent of healthcare workers get the shot, says Dr. Arnold Monto, professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan and a global influenza expert.

    Israel’s “vaccine refuseniks” cite a twofold rationale: they don’t believe they’re likely to get sick, and they don’t like being told what to do.

    “Personally, why don’t I take the shot? Because it’s my version of anarchism,” says one physician in Jerusalem, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The shot makes him feel sick for days, he adds: Why be sick now rather than take the chance of being sick a few days, later?

    Maybe because when it gets bad, influenza can kill. The Jerusalem physician however shrugs that he doesn’t belong to a high-risk group, and, he points out, he encourages his family to get the shot.

    Flu shots do matter

    Medical experts consider immunization, with an attenuated or inactive virus, to be the best way to prevent the spread of influenza. It’s particularly important for people with weaker immune systems, like seniors and children.

    Moreover, the U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices specifically urges health care workers to get vaccinated against flu because it “can reduce influenza-related morbidity and mortality among both health care personnel and their patients,” it stated in a paper published this August.

    It bears saying that working around sick people does not strengthen the doctors’ and nurses’ immune systems and confer immunity.

    One problem with immunizing against influenza is that the flu virus mutates madly, even making inter-species jumps – from animals to humans and vice versa. No one vaccine acts against all strains of flu, and one that worked last year may not work this one. “The influenza vaccine is good, it’s not great. Everyone is working on improving it,” says Monto.

    Yet there is good reason to be vaccinated, he says. “Seasonal influenza kills people every year. But even more importantly, there’s concern about a major pandemic, which would be disruptive, and which would be so much worse than Ebola.”

    The most feared security threat

    In a paper published in 2007, the World Health Organization calledinfluenza pandemics “the most feared security threat.”

    Flu is easy to catch in any case. If a strain develops that is “fully transmissible” –meaning that it infects people fluidly and quickly– the WHO predicts that a quarter of the world population could catch it in a matter of months. That would affect roughly 1.75 billion people.

    “Even if the virus caused relatively mild symptoms, the economic and social disruption arising from sudden surges of illness in so many people – occurring almost simultaneously throughout the world – would be enormous,” says the WHO report.

    It’s happened before. In 1918-1919, the so-called “Spanish Flu” pandemic affected approximately one-third of the world population, according to the CDC, resulting in between 50 to 100 million deaths. Today mankind is armed with better knowledge and vaccines, too. But pandemic could recur under the right conditions.

    Influenza-related diseases kill 1,386 people a year in Israel, on average. In the winter of 1999-2000, flu season led to 2,242 deaths (which accounted for more than 6 percent of the total morality rate in Israel during that period, according the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics).

    Flu’s spread can be facilitated in compact places full of potential disseminators – like overcrowded hospitals. In certain hospitals in Israel, occupancy rates can climb as high as 170 percent.

    Yet doctors and nurses still shun the shot, whether because they mistakenly figure they’re immunized by sheer exposure – or because they don’t feel like it.

    Don’t shame me, I’m a doctor

    Some Israeli hospitals and medical centers urge doctors to wear stickers that read “I also got vaccinated for the flu.”

    In October, the Ethics Committee of the Israeli Medical Association took a position against the stickers, on the grounds that they were counter-productive. Their use is tantamount to peer pressure to get immunized (and wear the sticker), which could actually diminish the doctors’ willingness to actually get the shot, the IMA wrote.

    “It makes you feel not respected,” says one pediatrician who works in the Tel Aviv area. “There needs to be a good reason to get immunized. You need to convince me. But to shame me? I’m a doctor.”

    On the global stage, Israel is lauded for its efforts on behalf of vaccinating the public: It is one of few places in the world that has such an active campaign to promote vaccination, says Monto. But Israeli health care workers are free to give reign to their libertarian streak, placing a premium on their individual freedom over the collective good.

  34. If you are sick of the attack Americans opposed to GOVERNMENT FORCED VACCINATION and haven’t yet planned on contacting your legislators to support vaccine exemptions and oppose bad vaccine legislation no matter what state you are in, make it a priority and PLEASE DO IT! 

  35. I personally went to the pediatrician for my little girl. Our doctor did not want to see little Suri unless we vaccinated her. I said ok. Well I’m going to bring you a packet to read and sign. The packet states that since vaccine companies are exempt from getting sued if any adverse reactions occur due to the vaccine and since she is the doc and went to medical school I would like her to list all the ingredients in the vaccines and all the risk factors. 

    I would like her to sign her autograph stating she is comfortable injecting it into my daughter and that if anything was to happen I can personally sue her. Because she is the doctor who said it’s in our best interest. She said no. I said then no way am I doing that. 

    I said name one vaccine that’s completely safe. She said she couldn’t. I said name one vaccine that is 100% effective. She couldn’t. 

    I said ok so your telling me as my doctor you cannot say vaccines are 100 percent safe you can’t say they actually are effective and you can’t say they actually help against the disease their made to prevent. For instance. The measles vaccine carries the measles virus which then goes to your child who did not have the virus at all and now he can also pass it on to the rest all while the unvaccinated is being blamed. 

    I looked at her and said didn’t you wanna be a doctor to help people and their health? Isn’t that why you went to medical school. She said yes. I said ok then you as a doctor need to do your own research because you can’t answer any of my questions nor can you give evidence or proof that what you believe is true. When I am the citizen coming in here with piles of evidence backing up my claims and you have none it seems silly. 

    So with that being said my children are completely natural and free from immunizations. Just like they were when they were born. Completely natural. My thoughts are do whatever you want with your children but our children are our children the parents should have the right to make our own decisions. 

    And also more and more studies are showing that literally the majority of all people and kids who are coming up with the measles right now are FULLY VACCINATED. but yet somehow it’s the unvaccinated fault. 
    How can you get these illnesses if your fully vaccinated. Isn’t that the whole point to gain immunity. Well if that’s the case then why are vaccinated kids catching illness. We see it time and time again. Vaccines don’t work!!!

  36. why do you allow attacks but you do not allow references let people see my letter & check it out for them self you will have to give a din vechashbon for keeping people from being well informed

  37. Those who don’t vaccinate don’t realize that they play with fire! They are putting their children at a much greater risk.

    My parents vaccinated us but were not careful in making sure we got all our vaccines (partially because of all the anti vax claims). When I was 20 years old I contracted Mumps which caused orchitis. I now suffer from severe male factor infertility directly caused by it and even with many treatments and IVF etc. we still have not had success in having children.

    Aside from that how can someone look at a disease that is causing 150 thousand deaths a year that has a vaccine that can nearly prevent all those deaths (97% effective) and say that because of a few cases of complications its not worth it. The benefits of saving 150 thousand lives a year far outweigh the possible risks! even according to the anti-vaxers there is definitely not a 150 thousand people dying a year from vaccines.

    it is like saying we should not have seatbelts or airbags in cars because sometimes they can cause injuries and deaths etc. No sane person would say that because the amount of people saved by these devices far outweigh the risks

  38. frumme: There was no significant decline in polio and smallpox until Salk. Within a few years it literally disappeared. 1000 years ago everyone knew someone who was damaged by polio. 100 years ago too. 50 years ago there were almost no cases of polio in children. Today it doesn’t even exist in industrialized countries.

    Funny thing. I sometimes check conspiracy sites for the fun of it. Two things that they are all very vehemantabout are the Jews run the world and vaccines are evil. Which is understandable, as they apply the same logic to both.

  39. * I just posted info reg. a email I recieved. UYCS is hosting a major event in BP reg. Vaccine issues & concerns. Im going! Get informed!!!
    Stop filling your kids bloodstream with so much filth & poison’s.
    vaccination is medication!