A personal letter to the Orthodox Jewish Community regarding measles vaccination – Dr. Naor Bar-Zeev

Dear friends, We are all acutely aware of the ongoing burden of measles in our communities in the United States, in Europe and in Eretz Yisroel. This outbreak was avoidable, and can be stopped.

My wife and I have, boruch Hashem, been blessed with children. We, like all parents, want to make the right choices for our children, both for their physical wellbeing and of course for their ruchniyus and their chinuch. All parents are flooded these days with information, some true and some false, about childrearing, and about choices that can affect our children’s health. This can make us worried and uncertain about what the right choices are.

I am a pediatrician, infectious diseases physician, epidemiologist and vaccine scientist. I work as Director of Epidemiology at the International Vaccine Access Center at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, where I am Associate Professor. All my work and those of my colleagues is about evaluating vaccine effectiveness and vaccine safety and of finding ways to make vaccines available to those who need them. But I am writing this letter not in professional terms, but as a personal appeal to you and to our Torah leadership, as a parent and as a member of our community.

During my career I have treated children with measles. Some years ago I cared for a vulnerable child who tragically died of that disease. She was a sweet, gentle, lovely child, whose mother had died in childbirth, and this girl was working extra hard to feed and grow. She loved to play and interact and clearly thrived when given warmth and love. Her carers nurtured her, encouraged her and invested in her. But then she contracted measles and succumbed. That child was too young to have been vaccinated. She died because vaccination rates in her community were low, and this allowed the disease to spread. I have treated other children who also got measles and survived, but had spent time in hospital with complicated disease.

There are concerns in the community that measles vaccines (which in the US are given as measles-mumps-rubella vaccine) have severe side effects, for example autism. This claim is false. Measles vaccination does not cause autism. This false idea arose from a fabrication that was published in an important medical journal and the persons involved with it have been discredited. Many clinical studies in very large numbers of children have subsequently been undertaken and have shown that measles vaccination, and all the ingredients contained in the vaccine, are entirely safe. But the damage from that dvar sheker was huge. As people became afraid to vaccinate, this highly infectious disease gained a foothold in communities and spread again around the world. Measles is a disease that spreads rapidly and can cause severe disease, including in rare cases long term damage to the brain. The vaccine against measles is safe. Measles is one of the few diseases that in principle could be eradicated from the world, as was done with smallpox. Seeing its resurgence is tragic. Seeing it in the

Jewish community is shocking, and dare I say, it is a chilul Hashem. The Torah tells us “midvar sheker tirchak”! Strict compliance with the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control can help halt this epidemic. Ongoing attention to vaccination coverage in the community can prevent future outbreaks and avoidable tragedy.

There is mistrust among some segments of the frum community of science and scientific evidence, and vaccine science in particular is viewed as somehow being against Torah values or reflect a lack of bitachon. We should be mindful of the Rambam hil’ kiddush hachodesh 17:24 who says “Anything whose reason has been revealed, and whose truth has been confirmed with incontrovertible proof, is to be relied upon.” There is incontrovertible proof that measles vaccination is effective and that it is safe. Not vaccinating is not only against a Torah of truth, but simply and directly puts lives at risk.

When bnei yisroel suffered a mageifa in the midbar, Aharon HaCohen stood literally bein hameisim u’vein ha’chayim and the Torah tells us vate’atzar hamageifa, the plague was stopped (Bamidbar 17:13). Even HaKadosh Boruch Hu bichvodo uve’atzmo stood kivyachol as a barrier between machane yisroel and machane mitzrayim by yam suf. That protection, those ananei hakavod lit up the darkness that the bnei yisroel were in (vayaér es halaila). With these ideas in mind and with my deepest humility toward kovod torasam of our gedolim, I implore our Torah leadership to stand in the tavech – to enter the fray, and to say in a clear united and unambiguous voice, that we must, each and every one of us, take action to ensure vaccination of our children and communities, in accordance with the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and unanimous global medical opinion. And to guide our communities that placing trust in medical opinion is not a pgam in bitachon or emunah, but precisely the opposite.

Rabbi Akiva rules chayecha kodmin lechayei chavereicha. In the context of vaccine preventable infectious diseases, the metzius is that our life and those of our children and fellow community members are intertwined, literally kol yisroel areivim. When I vaccinate my children I protect them and I also protect your children or grandchildren. And when you vaccinate your children you protect my children. The situation we are in is that chayecha are chayei chavereicha! At the end of hilchos matnos aniyim the Rambam says: “And to whom do the needy of yisroel raise their eyes?… Behold they raise their eyes to none other than their brothers!” A slightly surprising ending, one might have thought the Rambam would say that the needy should raise their eyes to Hashem, but no! The Rambam tells us that our foremost responsibility is to one another. We are all brothers, sisters, family. What we do affects all of us. If as a result of this epidemic we are to learn ahavas yisroel and true areivus, responsibility for one another, then it will have been an important but very painful lesson.

I conclude with an appeal that we all turn our hearts, our minds, our decisions and our trust to our Melekh Rofe Ne’eman ve’Rachaman, that we should all strive to be mekadesh Shmo ba’rabim; and with genuine concern and ahavas yisroel, belev ve’nefesh,

Dr Naor Bar-Zeev, MBBS (Hons) MPH MBiostat PhD FRACP FACTM AStat

Pediatrician, Infectious Diseases Physician, Statistical epidemiologist

Director of Epidemiology, International Vaccine Access Center

Associate Professor, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University

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  1. Ok .
    1) he’s being paid off by the pharmaceutical companies
    2) there is aluminum in vaccines (I saw it on the internet)
    3) I did research on it and it’s not safe because….
    4) 9/11 was an inside job I.e CIA

    Sigh !

  2. Great letter! Can you also talk about the other side effects non vaxxers are concerned about,other than just autism. Also does the MMR really protect for life. Or seniors should get a booster?? Do you any experience with older people??

    • Dear Vaxer,
      All vaccines can have minor side effects. Measles vaccine can cause fever and a rash some days after the vaccine is given. This is not serious and cannot result in complications. However, like all live vaccines, caution is advised in persons with genuine immune deficiency. Your doctor can give you personal advice.
      Measles is a disease that can affect any age. However, people who had it in childhood and survived usually develop lifelong immunity. It is mainly for this reason that prior to vaccines being available, measles was a childhood disease (because the surviving adults had already had it in the past). Persons who have received 2 separate doses of the vaccine also have long lasting immunity. Quite a number of people born in the 1960’s to 1970’s received only one dose. Those people should receive a second dose. The CDC has advice on this and your doctor will be able to advise you also.
      By the way, on davka using live attenuated measles vaccine to prevent measles – see Tachuma shmos 17:23. Bo u’reh shelo kemiddas hkb”h middas basar vedom… hkb”h bema she’makke merappe.
      May we be zoiche to the full refu’a: amar rav yitchok nafcha, amar hkb”h ani hetzatti esh betziyon… v’ani asid livnoisa b’esh (bava kama 60b).
      Umacha Hashem dim’a me’al kol ponim.
      Best wishes,

      • Dear Dr. Bar- Zeev

        Thanks for taking the time to answer so many questions. I understand that perhaps this vaccine is inherently OK but my children’s pediatrician is quite concerned regarding the amount of different vaccines that are given at once sometimes 4 or 5 different things administered at once- overwhelming sometime fragile childrens immune systems. He believes based on many decades of experience that doing this can cause all sorts of things which I wont enumerate here but I would like your input regarding what you think about giving lots of vaccines at once vs spreading them out.

    • Just represents the same old pharma propaganda about Dr. Wakefield. He clearly hasn’t done any of his own research. Just another totally brainwashed doctor.

      • Dear Mother,
        I do my own research. You can look me up. I do it carefully and methodically. It is difficult and frustrating work, it is sometimes fulfilling and worthwhile. It is real. I do it to protect my children and your children. It is painful to see children suffering or hurt or damaged by medical intervention and by disease. It is unfair. It is soul destroying, it eats away at one’s sense of place in the world. There is no brainwashing here. There is not “just another”. There is me and you in conversation about something very real and very important. How best to protect our children and support them, injured and uninjured alike.
        Wishing you and your child all the very best, if you would like to discuss offline you may contact me directly.

  3. I’m just waiting for the real educated people to chime in against this letter. You know, the chasidish mothers who can barely string together a coherent sentence in English who did ‘research.’ No offense for not speaking English, it’s only that how do have the ‘knowledge’ by reading these highly complex articles in medical journals, and weigh them one against the other when English is not even your first language! And even if it is, for anyone without medical training, reading those articles including all the intricacies are almost impossible. And if you are reading synopsis’s by others, (who usually have special interests, then you are no different than anybody else!)
    But everyone trust them more than the doctors out there, because they are ‘independent minds’ so they must know better. It’s like the independents in politics who love being the more educated than the herd (pun).
    Excellent letter!

    • We must be sensitive to parents who are worried about vaccinating. They are loving caring parents like you and like me. We have to communicate with empathy and kindness. Making them feel uneducated or callous is not helpful for them or for us. The persons who should be respectfully criticized and engaged are leaders in the community who discourage vaccination.
      kol tuv

  4. If someone showed me single INDEPENDENT , not paid by pharmaceutical companies ,report on effectiveness and safety i may will be more rely on it . And problem not only autism, but all kind of side effects on health and way it could affect us , not immediately but some times in month or in years .

    • Hi Moshe,
      There is a wealth of solid, reliable, independent evidence, that has not a trace of industry funding. You could start by searching PubMed, and specifically exclude all papers that either report drug company money or that do not report who funded them.
      Remember that while you are spending time doing this search, measles will continue to spread to those you love. I wonder if, lehavdil, you had a tricky halakhic shaila would you work it all out yourself. starting in chumash, through midrashei halakha, mishna, gemoro, rishonim, acharoinim, poskim etc. Would it be even approrpiate for you to do so? Or would you ask your rov, asher yhye bayomim hahem…vehigidu lecho es dvar hamishpat.
      Happy to sned you resources outside this chat.
      Best wishes and stay safe,

  5. Dr. Bar Zeev,
    You write that many clinical trials in very large numbers of children have shown that the measles vaccine with all of its ingredients are entirely safe. Would you be so kind to post the names of two or three studies that you are referring to?

    I have read a study that says “The design and reporting of safety outcomes in MMR vaccines studies, both pre- and post-marketing are largely inadequate” – “Vaccine for Measles, Mumps, and Rubella in Children” Cochrane Database of Syst Rev, 2012 Feb 15: (2)

    I also believe that the MMR vaccine’s manufacturer’s insert does not include any clinical trial data prior to licensure, as is customary to do with vaccines. If this is true. do you know why?

    Dr. Plotkin, the leading authority on vaccines in the US, was deposed by Aaron Siri in January 2018 and was questioned about this. Dr. Plotkin was not sure if there was a randomized placebo-controlled study before this vaccine was licensed. Can you please verify if in fact there was a randomized placebo-controlled study done? (You can see Dr. Plotkin’s testimony on this matter on Page 170 and onward in the deposition available online (Matheson and Plotkin).

    You state that all the vaccine ingredients in the MMR are safe. Can you please post studies that prove there are no long-term effects from: chick embryo cell cultures, WI-38 human diploid lung fibroblasts, vitamins, amino acids, fetal bovine (cow) serum, sucrose, glutamate, recombinant (genetically engineered) human albumin, neomycin, sorbitol, hydrolyzed gelatin, sodium phosphate and sodium chloride?

    Also the vaccine insert for MMR says that the product has not been evaluated for “carcinogenic or mutagenic potential, or potential to impair fertility.” Have studies been done recently on these issues but have not found their way into the MMR insert? If so, can you please share them with us?

    Finally, if the measles vaccine is entirely safe, how come the manufacturer’s insert has a section on possible adverse side effects? And how come there is a statement under “Precautions” – Adequate treatment provisions, including epinephrine injection (1:1000), should be available for immediate use should an anaphylactic or anaphylactoid reaction occur” ?

    Thank you very much and looking forward to your response.

    • Dear Asking,
      Thank you for those numerous and deep questions. Yes I am able to send you papers that demonstrate MMR vaccine safety.

      In broad terms I think that we are facing a situation where community confidence in vaccines is lower than it should be. It is the responsibility of the medical research community to be thorough and transparent and to follow up genuine signals of possible concern. I also agree that more funding in this area would be very welcome.

      You are right that more research could be done (we always have more to learn, and should be humble in this regard) on every possible exposure that we have, not only vaccines but food and environment and so on. But I want to be clear on one important point. In our choices in life we must balance known and definite severe life threatening risk from measles, from the known and definitive risks that arise from vaccination. Vaccines have effects and side effects and not vaccinting also has effects – it leaves our children susceptible to measles, which is highly contagious, and requires 94-95% community vaccination uptake to achieve so called “herd protection” – protection of the vulnerable. While you and I can discuss the merits or harms of sorbitols and salts, young children will contract measles and some will lo aleinu perhaps die.
      Please do not let perfect be the enemy of the good. Even if you have a safeik regarding vaccines, lean in this case lechumra. Make the decision that is the most right decision. Not the perfect decision. No human being has access to perfect knowledge. Lo bashamayim hi.
      Best wishes,

      • Thank you for your response.

        I was just sent a link to a publication: “The History of the Global Vaccination Program in 1000 Peer Reviewed Reports and Studies 1915-2015.” I am overwhelmed by what I am reading there. Perhaps you can take a look

        In the publication is “Herd Immunity: Can Infectious Diseases be Prevented by High Vaccination Coverage?” by Lucija Tomljenovic, PHD.

        Also on enrichedparenting.org : under the HEALTH section, then VACCINATIONS section, then HERD IMMUNITY section, are some articles that are questioning the reality of “herd immunity.”

        PS. In regard to the studies you have showing safety of MMR vaccines, can you please post the name of the studies here so everyone else can have access to them? Thank you.

        • Dear Asking,

          I am not sure I fully follow your question. The issue of herd protection is an important one. There are a few different types of herd protection, and for some diseases but not all, it is possible to achieve herd protection. Because measles is highly infectious it is actually quite challenging to achieve herd protection, and requires 94-95% of the community to be vaccinated. For other infections that threshold is lower. Achieving herd protection depends on the organism, on the population, its mixing patterns and the population force of infection, among other factors. There is not a one single simplistic answer here.
          We can have a whole shiur on this issue with example and marei mekomos, vein kan makom lehaarich. Suffice to say herd protection is a real phenomenon, but when and how to achieve it is complex, and forms part of the consideration behind population vaccination targets and vaccine schedules.
          Clearly it would be wonderful to be able to protect the most vulnerable, say young infants, without having to depend on everyone doing their bit, since sadly that is unreliable, as we see now with this preventable and tragic measles outbreak.

          For a measles safety reference, there are many, but one meta-analysis to start from is: Taylor L.E. et al Vaccine 2014; 32:3624

          Thank you

        • @Asking

          I don’t have time to read through every article you posted. However, I spent a few minutes reading through “The History of the Global Vaccination Program” and found a few problems with the paper. This is not a research paper published in a medical journal in which the editors would check the veracity of the statements made in the article. Who is Jeff Prager? The article “Institutional Corruption of Pharmaceuticals” has nothing to do with vaccines and is mainly an opinion piece by the authors. I stopped reading the paper after a quote it brought from Dr. J. Anthony Morris who is identified as a former Chief Vaccine Control Officer at the FDA. Dr. Morris worked for the FDA in 1976 and felt that the efficacy of the flu vaccine was exaggerated by pharmaceutical companies. Nowhere did Dr. Morris states that vaccines cause autism or other developmental abnormalities in children.

          Please treat any article you read against vaccinating with the same skepticism with which you treat the advice and medical knowledge of your pediatrician. Fact check every author and any statement they make. More often than not, the sources are not credible and the authors have an agenda.

          Your questions are no different than an Aino Yehudi reading an article written by a OTD ex-chassid about the dangers of raising children in an insular community. Would you feel it necessary to answer up every question? Or would you let the track record of living a frum Torah life speak for itself?

          What has happened to polio, measles, diptheria and meningitis since the discovery of vaccines? Let the facts speak for themselves.

  6. Hi Mike,
    I do sense the sarcasm in your response, but just to address your “1,2,3” points rishon rishon acharon acharon…
    1. Regarding your response that I am getting paid off – here are the facts:
    I have twice initiated and received funding for research in Africa on rotavirus vaccines and on diarrheal disease from two vaccine manufacturing companies, one was GlaxoSmithKline and the other was Takeda. These funds paid for field worker salaries in remote rural Malawi and for laboratory technician time in Malawi. I structured these payments so that I received no benefit financial or otherwise from these research grants. I am aware that even subtle things such as this can be me’aver einei chachomim, especially in scientific research. So I am very careful on this point, I do not even use free drug company pens or anything like that, have turned down sponsored flights and kosher catered dinners to avoid any possibility of subconscious influence on my work and my science. Record of all my grants are made public in all my scientific papers and are auditable. The research that was supported by the grant mentioned was cofunded by a large medical charity, non-industry, and the work proved for the first time that rotavirus vaccine saves lives and was an important paper that I hope will encourage more governments around the world to introduce that vaccine.
    2. Regarding the issue of aluminum (or alum or aluminium) – this is a widely used part of many vaccines and has been used in many many millions of doses for over 70 years. I have seen one time a rare local side effect to this that resolved spontaneously. Studies, many studies, demonstrate it is safe. It assists the immune response to the vaccine. In any case the MMR vaccine contains no alum.
    3. I am glad you are educating yourself by using the internet, just be sure to use reliable sources. I, just like you, am also involved in vaccine research.
    4. Your final point requires no response of course. And syag lechochma shetika.

    MMR vaccination will prevent deaths in our communities. It is negligent and hugely irresponsible for us not to vaccinate our children. Moshe rabbeinu held hkb”h bevigdo, as we know (ve’ata hanicha li…). kal vachomer anybody ANYBODY basra ve’dam who is threating the lives of Jewish children by their action or inaction.
    May we be zoche to true achdus on this crucial matter.
    Naor Bar-Zeev

    • Dr. Bar- Zeev,

      Yes, there is no aluminum in MMR, but other vaccines do have it. Thus I am concerned about medical studies in rabbits and mice showing that injected aluminum is being transported from the injection site by macrophages to other parts of the body, including the brains of these animals.

      Also one study that did autopsies on the brains of autistic children found high levels of aluminum in immune cells that traveled to the brain (and also some aluminum in neurons). “Aluminum in the brain tissue of autism” in Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology. Also see pages 292 and onward in Dr. Stanley Plotkin’s deposition in January 2018.

      Can you please post for us one or two studies that show aluminum adjuvants have been proven safe and are not going to cause long-term problems for our children? I know there is the Mitkus study – but that used a different aluminum product that was infused into adults.

      Thank you very much. Looking forward to your response.

      • @Asking

        Did you read the article from the Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology? They used 5 patients ages 15, 22, 33, 44 and 50. What is the connection between ASD and aluminum? Did they compare randomly selected brains of people the same age without ASD? They did, and do you know what they found? They found that 67% of non-ASD brains also had very high levels of aluminum. Why do you think that this limited study means that trace amounts of aluminum in vaccines has lead to Autism? Two thirds of otherwise normal people had similar levels of aluminum in their brains but did not develop autism.

        Children receive a total of 4.4 mg of aluminum from vaccines in the first 6 months of life. The bulk of the vaccines we receive are given at this time. Conversely, infants fed soy-based formula ingest over 100 mg of aluminum over the same period. This doesn’t take into effect the aluminum we ingest in the food we cook in aluminum cookware.

        Vaccines have been using aluminum to strengthen the immune response since the 1920’s. People somehow feel that a minute amount of injected aluminum vs the large amount of ingested aluminum over a lifetime is the cause of autism. Citric acid in fruit drinks will greatly increase the absorption rate of aluminum into the blood stream.

        Dr. Bar-Zeev can stay here and answer all your questions and people will still choose to believe in conspiracy theories. The fact is that medical professionals have dedicated their lives to protecting people and have spent years studying the possibility of adverse events from vaccines. The overwhelming evidence has concluded that the risk of catching vaccine-preventable diseases and their sequelae are much worse than the possible side-effect a child might experience from a vaccine.

        This feels like the debate between the Ramban and the Dominican Friar in Barcelona. Antivaxxers aren’t any more interested in the truth than King James I of Aragon was interested in the Ramban proving Yoshka wasn’t Moshiach.

        • Putting aside whether aluminum does or does not cause autism, I think parents would like to know that aluminum injected into children, even if it is just 4.4 mg, is safe and will not cause harm in the future. Ingested aluminum gets excreted from the body, whereas injected aluminum remains in the body. Even it has been used since 1920, what safety studies have been done at this point?

          In this article, “Workshop on non-clinical safety evaluation of preventive vaccines: recent advances and regulatory considerations” ( a transcript of a meeting that took place with FDA officials, pharma reps and others, in December 2002 in Arlington, VA ) among other things, aluminum in vaccines is discussed. Some of the discussion seems to indicate that it is very hard to really do toxicity studies on vaccines and here are excerpts dealing with what has, or has not been done…

          One of those present, Martin Feder from Apovia, said, “And I think this highlights one of the problems of vaccine toxicity. Very little is published. Having had to write a short review of alum toxicity, I was horrified to find how few publications there were on this. And I see a problem.” (page 69)

          (Pages 36-37)
          Mr. Gilmer from EPA said, “So I’m just wondering about the kind of cumulative effect of the different vaccines. And perhaps this is more relevant to the adjuvant, mainly alum hyrdoxide. But you know, there seems to be more of an exposure than what’s being tested, if you look at what’s going on in real life.”

          Mildred Christian from Argus Research responds. ” What your suggesting is that maybe toxicity studies should be done in light of those [pediatric schedule] vaccines, and you should somehow prime the animal with those vaccines before testing your new vaccine, or co-administer?”

          Mr. Gilmer responds, “Well, I’m interested in how the FDA — or looking at this just as an overall exposure in this two-year window; not just a single component. So yes, that is my question,

          Mildred Christian responds, “I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t know what has been done, in terms of alum toxicity.”

          Dr. Midthun, Director, Office of Vaccine Research and Review, CBER/FDA, “….but I think we also recognize that there are a number of things that we really need to learn more about, and certainly aluminum is one of them.”

          Since this meeting in 2002, what new toxicity studies have been done in regard to aluminum?

          Thank you.

  7. This issue isn’t as simple and black and white as people make it. If you google or YouTube search vaccine safety you’ll see videos of hundreds of drs and scientists that explain with evidence why vaccines are extremely dangerous. These are very qualified drs and scientists you can do Wikipedia searches on all of the drs. Facts are vaccines have not been really tested. The ones who do the tests are the ones who make the vaccines who can’t be sued! People just trust cdc which has been time and time again proven to be dishonest that vaccines are safe. They are working now on 300 new vaccines wheres the limit? Are we going to have to get vaccines every day!

    • Hi Jake,
      Your comments are unfortunately not well informed. We do live in a world where YouTube and Google send us unfiltered information. We can sit comfortably in our homes watching it because we have survived infectious diseases and those around us are protecting us by being vaccinated.
      The parents of my great grandparents in Hungary died in an infectious disease outbreak. The Ramchal and all his family died in a plague. Death from infection was a reality. That remains true in many places around the world, but is largely no longer true in the US because of sanitation and clean water and also because of vaccination.
      Many people I know work very very hard to develop vaccines for which there is a pressing need globally. They are learned, thoughful, caring, dedicated, unsung. They do it because it is needed, and not for any other reason.
      Please review what you consider facts again. It seems the issue here is not one of fact but of trust?
      Best wishes,

  8. People like Jake will never move past the Middle Ages. Anyone who can say that “hundreds of drs and scientists…[say that] vaccines are extremely dangerous” (in actuality, a small handful) obviously doesn’t know how to read scientific literature and is holding on to the shtetl mentality that is scared to death of government, organizations, and the like. It is totally ludicrous say that vaccines have not really been tested. Clearly, he does not know how to do any kind of research. To malign the CDC is so laughable that it’s not even worth responding to. As for working on new vaccines—B”H! There remain dangerous diseases (including cancer) that can benefit from vaccines. Vaccines have saved millions and millions of lives – that is an indisputable fact. It is so good to hear from an expert like Dr. Bar-Zeev as opposed to all the anecdotal nonsense that the anti-vaxxers continue to be allowed to post. It’s time to put an end to these meaningless posts from Anti-vaxxers who claim to know something but in reality don’t.

    • In regard to the CDC, you may want to check out this article: “The unofficial vaccine educators: Are CDC-funded non-profits sufficiently independent?”

      Also, ACIP, which you may know is the part of the CDC that decides vaccine policy, has some members who are financially tied to vaccine manufacturers:

      Dr. Robert Atmar – Consultant for Glaxosmithkline and Novartis

      Echezona Ezeanolue —
      Pfizer – Grant Investigator
      Wyeth – Grant Investigator
      Glaxosmithkline – Speaker’s Bureau and consultant
      Novartis – Speaker’s Bureau and speaker panel
      Sanofi – consultant, Speaker’s Bureau and speaker panel

      Emmanuel Walter —
      Glaxosmithkline -Investigator, Research support
      Novartis – Speaker’s Bureau and speaker panel
      Sanofi – consultant, Speaker’s Bureau and speaker panel

      • I am involved at the moment in a clinical trial developing a vaccine entirely through academia that is not being developed with the pharmaceutical industry. But such studies are rare. One very important example that was highly successful was the MenAfriVac vaccine against menigococcus A. So there are examples of this, but it is rare mainly because the investment it takes to develop vaccines is huge, and even a successful candidate vaccine can take 10-15 years to get through all the trials required for licensure. These processes are very strict and extremely regulated, and so they should be. But this takes massive resource investment, that few outside of industry have. So industry is here to stay and they are important partners with the community in developing new vaccines, and in continuing to produce old unprofitable ones. The financial relationships have to be transparent and regulated, and mostly they are. The management and interpretation of the data needs to be independent and validated. Many many people whom I know who work in this industry are scrupulously honest and completely dedicated. They would not risk their loved ones or your loved ones with a product for the sake of money. In the field of vaccines we know we are dealing with lives of the sick but also importantly with the lives of the vast majority that are healthy and roll up their children’s sleeves or pants to get the stuff in the needle. This is a huge responsibility and one academia and industry take very seriously.

        All of science, and especially the medical community have to be ready to be questioned and to face scrutiny. It keeps us answerable to our patients and keeps us always learning. Relationships with industry have to be totally transparent. Industry is a necessary part of having the vaccines and medicines we need. Our relationship with it should be regulated and clear.

  9. Jake, I can’t believe it, the Dr bar-Zeev, who is an expert in epidemiology and pediatrics, states a clear guideline which can spare lives and includes the Related Torah hashkafa, and you’re going to dispute it with you tube videos? You’ve got to be kidding! Please, let’s once and for all, defer to experts and not think that the professionals who schooled for scores of years are foolish or out to mislead us, he’s a sincere Ben Torah and expert in disease, he probably has good insight, let’s move forward

  10. Hey Doc !

    I was actually being Very sarcastic.

    Just trying to preempt the usual nonsense that comes from the anti vaccine community.
    And I emphasized that it’s the same crowd that believes other wacky conspiracy theories .

    Thank you for all you do for the community and the world .


  11. Regarding Mike’s reply.

    Everyone take a CHILL.

    He had a good line and he posted it.

    We are allowed to enjoy ourselves.

    Oh maybe not.

    Have a great Shabbos everyone.

  12. Dr. Bar-Zeev,
    Thank you for your thorough excellent response to Mike. You have laid all issues to rest and made a beautiful argument for why everyone needs to vaccinate. Please don’t waste your time responding to any more posts to you. The mandate to vaccinate is clear beyond the shadow of a doubt. You’re too busy to waste any more time on people who only have an ax to grind.

  13. I definatly like civility, that dr. Bar-Zeev lead conversation. Let keep in that way . Regarding use you tube ,or different sources information on internet i disagreed. It not about website ,it about people who you listen . Some of them very known Dr. And Professors who give very different opinion, that Dr Bar-Zeev. It up to you , what make in your mind more sense or what do you want to listen make different. Same with halochikal issues, depend who you asking ( or want to ask). Why do not make a round table with specialists in this issue on both side ? Just dont tell me that of im right , no reason waste your time. It make you loose immediately in mind of many people .

  14. Dear Dr. Bar-Zeev
    I have some serious questions and after researching vaccine reactions on the CDC site, I am even more concerned.
    The CDC says that a severe vaccine allergic reaction can happen in 1 in a million injections. If a child gets around 50 vaccines by the time they are 18, then a child has a 1 in 20,000 chance of having a severe reaction which as per the CDC includes encephalitis, meningitis, seizure disorder etc. (This is not even addressing the concerns of the sharp rise of autoimmune diseases)
    Why is this treated so lightly?
    Who has to deal with the aftermath of the 1 in 20,000 (the parents?)?
    Why is someone who has seen the aftermath, looked at with disgust, disdain and revulsion and is being pressured to further vaccinate other children?
    Who is standing up for the 1 in 20,000 as they are saying they exist?
    Why is their such denial of the existence of the reactions?

    Another question I have been wondering is why does CDC safety data on measles pre and post vaccine show that measles was less dangerous in the years before the vaccine came out?
    I dont think this will actually get posted, but if it does, I really am interested in hearing the answers from an expert and not an anti vaxxer?
    Thank you very much

    • Dear On the Fence,
      Severe allergic reaction is real and can occur. It is very rare.
      When it occurs we need to be ready to manage it medically, be it from vaccines or from other allergens. Hence the need to give vaccines in a clinic that is appropriately equipped and staff that are trained. I would not vaccinate you in the back of a car somewhere back of yenemsville!

      Your statistical back of the envelope is not quite right. The total risk from the entire vaccine schedule is not multiplicative in the way you calculated for a number of reasons that I can’t explicate fully here. But briefly – many vaccines are repeated doses, so if I was okay first time, I am usually likely to be okay next time. Vaccines often target several diseases in one “shot”, and so on.

      But the bottom line is this. Assume for a minute all vaccination would be stopped. What would happen? There would be a resurgence of infectious diseases not seen for decades or longer. People would die of these infections. So even if there is a risk from vaccines, and of course there is a small risk, the risk of not vaccinating is far greater. And this current outbreak is precisely the evidence to show this.

      Best wishes,

      • I am a Professor of Epidemiology and Population Health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, with my PhD from Johns Hopkins where Dr. Naor Bar-Zeev now works. I would like to second his points here about the risk from the vaccine schedule not being multiplicative. The biology of allergic reactions is complicated but Dr. Bar-Zeev is correct here (and on everything else in the article and in the comments).

      • Thank you Dr. Bar-Zeev,

        You didn’t answer her question why the CDC safety data on measles pre and post vaccine show that measles was less dangerous in the years before the vaccine came out?

    • It is safe. But for specific personal advice, especially if the child is on substantial immunosuppressive medication, please discuss with your own physician.
      Refuá sheleima!

  15. Dr Bar-Zeev,
    Thank you for taking the time to pen this letter and address the concerns of the community, we have not had a pediatrician that actually knows vaccine science speak up at all.
    We ex-vaxxers are very concerned about the side effects that we have seen with our own eyes on our very own precious children.
    We would love if we can sit down with you either in person or by phone and discuss these concerns with someone who will actually answer our questions instead of calling us names and refusing to address our very real and valid concerns.
    Thank you

    • Dear Deb,
      I agree there is a need for non-judgemental real engagement that is respectful of parents’ concerns. Like you I have seen with my own eyes side effects in my children following vaccination. These were unpleasant, but mild and they resolved. I have also seen with my own eyes and held in my own hands children, sadly many children, who have died of pneumococcal disease, and Haemophilus disease and pertussis, rotavirus and as I said in my letter measles. I have also seen children dying of diseases for which new vaccines are emerging, like malaria, which thankfully we do not see in the US. And I have seen many infants die of diseases which are crying out for a vaccine like RSV. These are real children, they had real mothers too. In one case I cared for a child who had no parents and when he died there was nobody to cry for him. I only say this to bear witness to the incredible destruction that infectious disease does continue to cause. We are protected from much of this horrific reality thanks to vaccination, and thanks to the endless efforts of scientists and doctors and nurses and parents and community leaders who together as a community can keep our children thriving and healthy.
      Shomer yisroel, shmor sheeris yisroel. And we are obligated to do the same.
      Many thanks

  16. Mr Bar Zeev
    Please reply to “asking’s” very valid and important questions. It may be true that ppl are ill right now, but taking time to answer his questions wont affect those ppl for better or for worse.
    Please don’t make excuses. Just answer his questions so we can have clarity.
    Thank you and zei gezunt.

    • Hello,
      I have responded several time to those questions. Clearly I am making no excuses of any kind.
      The main issue is that vaccination protects our children from death and lifelong disability by infectious diseases. This is incontrovertible.

      Questions about side effects are important, and listening to the community and addressing its concerns are important. Is there more to learn in hkb”h immensely beautiful and complex world – absolutely! Anybody who has studied immunology in depth can see the immense complexity, wisdom, balance and beauty of Hashem’s world right there. It is astounding. And the more one learns the more one realises – amarti echkema, ve’hi rechoka mimeni. BUT, to not act until we know every nuance is wrongheaded. In science this is the difference between reductionism and empiricism. The reductionist wants to know every detail, every nuance. The empiricist wants to see the overall effect. I cannot study how a butterfly flies by dissecting it, I have to watch its movements.
      Vaccines have been trialled in field trials and first used in the late 18th century. Solid empirical epidemiological evidence that has been repetaed and validated exists for efficacy, effectiveness (yes there is a nafka mina from efficacy, vekm”l), impact and safety. Is there more to learn? Of course. Could there be more studies on this or that aspect – always. Should we therefore cease vaccination until we know everything? Absolutely not. We MUST act based on available best knowledge. Ein ladayan ella ma sheéinav roót!

      • Dear Dr Baar Zeev

        Like a lot of the posters here, I appreciate your time and tone in answering these questions and I think I understand your argument i.e Vaccines have been proven to be overall safe and effective over the course of many years and many million of doses. Yes, there is still a lot we don’t understand and much to learn, but overall we have to base our decisions on the most expert knowledge available. Everything in life has risks, but vaccinating is the best choice for my children and the community at large.

        Unfortunately, that argument pushes me to suspend belief in what I see and hear personally going on around me. So many stories of parents who have a perfectly healthy baby/child one minute and straight after the receiving their shot are never the same again (to varying degrees of severity)

        The Supreme Court ruled the vaccines are “unavoidably unsafe” and the question is to what degree. Doctors are saying one thing, but too many parents are witnessing something else.

        The questions Asking is asking are not “nuances and details”. They are absolute fundamentals. How can the vaccine be safe if the ingredients are so questionable. Where are all the safety studies you quote? With all respect in the word, your answer feels dismissive and condescending and don’t satisfactorily address the question. Are you able to answer directly with the specific information? I have re typed below for reference

        Question 1

        “You state that all vaccine ingredients in the MMR are safe. Can you please post studies that prove that there are no long term-effect from: chick embryo cell structures, WI-38 human diploid lung fibroblasts, vitamins, amino acids, fetal bovine (cow) serum, sucrose, glutamate, recombinant and sodium chloride?

        Question 2

        “Also part of the vaccine insert for MMR says that the product has not been evaluated for “carcinogenic or mutagenic potential, or potential to impair fertility” Have studies been done recently on these issues but have not found there way into the MMR insert? If so please share them with us.

        Question 3

        “Finally, if the measels vaccine is entirely safe, how come the manufacturers insert has a section on possible side effects (which include Diabetes, Ananphylaxis, Encephalitis, Pnemonia….)?

        • Dear Daniel,
          There was once a very important statistician called Abraham Wald. He was reviewing planes returning from battle in WW2, and saw many bullet holes in certain parts of the fuselage. The airforce engineers suggested reinforcing with thick steel those areas where the bullets were commonly found. And Abraham Wald said no, the aircraft should be reinforced davka where we see no bullet holes. Why? Because the planes we see are the planes that made it back with their holes. So what we do not see are the planes that did not make it. They must have had holes elsewhere and not in the survival parts of the plane.
          The brilliance of his Yiddishe kop was to realise that there is a lot that we do NOT see and we should be aware of the knowledge that is hidden in that.
          Now the nimshal: yes there are children who we see who develop concerning and serious symptoms after some event. And even though temporal association is a needed to establish causation, it is not sufficient. That is if B happens after A that does not prove that A causes B. BUT IMPORTANTLY – even if it were the case that in rare cases A causes B, we are not in a situation where NOT giving vaccine would be safer. Not giving vaccines is harming our children. It is important to reflect on the vast numbers of healthy children alive and thriving around the world who are protected from the awful ravages of infections like measles. We do not think about them because they are healthy and well. We of course are inclined to notice suffering, this comes from our better nature, we are rachmanim and gomlei chasadim. So we feel pain when we see a mother with a damaged or hurt child. But we must remember Abraham Wald. There is also the hester panim of goodness and or health. Things are good we don’t notice. So I will reverse a famous saying – keshem shemevarchim al ha’ra, mevarchim al hatov also.
          I cannot in this forum go into each and every detail of vaccinology or epidemiology. It would do the subject and the questions an injustice. However, an important point. I am not answerable to questions of vaccine doubters. I am answerable to the children who will die if I don’t do the best I can to encourage vaccination. I, like Wald, see them in front of me always. I see what would happen if our wisdom was injudiciously swayed in either direction – overly worried or overly confident about safety. Both are harmful.
          You are making a dangerous mistake in saying that “the ingredients in vaccines are so questionable”. Yes there should be questions, but there should also be good valid thorough and proper judgement of risks of giving and of not giving vaccines.
          Best wishes,

          • Dear Dr Bar-Lev

            Thank you again for taking the time to reply although I have to say again that I feel disappointed with your response. Let me explain –

            You say “I am not answerable to questions from vaccine doubters”
            This of course completely true. I don’t think I ever implied you were. You did however write a personal letter imploring the use of vaccines. Your letter raises questions and if you want to convince people who are genuinely seeking the truth you need to be able to answer their follow up questions honestly and directly. You seem unwilling or unable to do this.

            Three reasonable questions were posted above and you state “I cannot in this forum go into each and every detail of vaccinology or epidemiology. It would do the subject an injustice” For question two for example you could either say. “No studies have been done” or “Yes, you can find the studies here…” Why would that be so difficult?

            As you say”there should be good valid thorough and proper judgment of the risks of giving and not giving vaccines” I dont think anyone here disputes this. What is in dispute is exactly what are the risks. The questions above are part of the quest to understand that. Saying that I am making a dangerous mistake is fine, but its not convincing. Safety studies and clear direct answers would help more.

            I’m sorry if my tone sounds attacking, however as I said originally the above questions are not nuances but fundamentals and it feels like they are being too easily dismissed.

  17. Dr Bar-Zeev, you sound like a really really special person aside from being extremely educated and level-headed. Your letter was so soothing and filled me with such a good feeling after reading it. And the same of each and every calm and informative response that you took the time to write. This shows what a truly caring individual you are! Wow what a kiddush Hashem you must make in the workplace and in your personal life as well!! Thank you for all that you are doing for Klal Yisroel and May Hashem repay you!! And May your beautiful efforts have the desired effect we so badly need here in Lakewood. I definitely got a lot of chizuk from your letter. I vaccinate but I hope the people who until now didn’t will feel the same way I did after reading it.

  18. Dr. Bar- Zeev,
    I am begging you, yes begging you, to please read an important document. You can find it on enrichedparenting.org
    Click on HEALTH, then VACCINATIONS, then HALACHA AND VACCINATIONS, and then “Vaccines and Halacha”

    Aside from discussing the effectiveness of vaccines on pages 38 and onwards (measles chart and info on page 44), there is SO MUCH MORE information that I hope you will have a chance to review.

    We all appreciate your kind and non-threatening demeanor. Kol tov!

  19. If the number really is 1 in 20,000, then there should only be one or two reactions in lakewood,nj
    I personally know 4 ppl.
    2 had fatal results
    1 is delayed for life and doesnt talk at all (he is an adult now)
    1 got an autoimmune condition directly from vaccination
    I know other cases out of lakewood too
    Just from looking at vaccination rates in schools in the monsey area leads me to believe that there are hundreds of frum children that have had severe vaccine adverse events which brings down that 1 in 20,000 number significantly
    Just want to end with the following message:
    To all those who think we landed on the moon and turned alien
    Before we stopped vaccinating i did hundreds of hours of research (and when i say research i am not referring to youtube although there are plenty of reputable doctors presenting there) i read actual pubmed and other reputable studies, i combed cdc website, i looked at the claims fed to us by the media and compared it to the facts
    It was not the same story!
    Vaers – read thru reported vaccine reactions
    Read thru the cdc website
    I researched the actual illnesses we are vaccinating for
    I looked at what some of the other countries have allowed and have not allowed like chicken pox and hpv vaccines and why
    I looked at infant mortality rates in us and other countries
    And sids- what is sids? When was the first case if sids? What causes sids
    Back to sleep campaign and all the studies related to that
    I tried to find vax vs unvax study but there is none
    Why not?
    And why cant they use a saline placebo when testing safety? Why use an adjuvented one? Or a previously approved vaccine

    Thank you!

    • Dear Deb,
      In order to keep shabbos, you need to really know the halakhos. But many of us do not know every sevara, its rationale, and the makhloikos that preceding some final psak. We are obligated to learn. But our keeping shabbos is not dependent on first learning every single thing beíyun. There is a naáse and then there is a nishma.

      Now this analogy is not entirely fair, because by shabbos you are talking about the torah, and by vaccines you are not. But the nimshal is: If we do not vaccinate, infectious disease resurgence will occur. That is a fact. And now given that fact, let’s work out carefully the risks of vaccines, and the probability of rare adverse events etc.

      Best wishes in your ongoing learning and exploration,

        • Dear Deb,
          Have re-read your comment. I am uncertain exactly what your question is. You mention that different countries do different things. You are worried about sudden infant death syndrome, you also ask about trials that compare vaccine receipt to no vaccine receipt (I think you mean also to no placebo) and about adjuvant vs non-adjuvant placebo?

          I will answer the last 2 first:
          In setting where vaccines are available, it is not ethical to randomize children to not receive vaccines. This makes clinical trials more difficult. And even when a vaccine is not yet available, there is an issue of providing benefit to study participants and nit “using” them in a trial with no benefit to them. So frequently the non-intervention arm in a trial is given some other vaccine. This decision depends on factors like location, standard of care, disease prevalence, etc and very importantly in not having double standards in research between high and low income settings.
          Regarding adjuvanted placebos – some studies use no placebo at all, but then such a study is not blinded (we know who got what) and this increases risk of bias. Placebo can be entirely inactive, or can have the same adjuvant as the vaccine being trialed. The reason for this is that it allows us to isolate the adverse events arising from the vaccine itself. This is very important for vaccine safety, and for the vaccine development process. Many vaccine candidates drop out of development because they cause too many side effects in animal studies and then in human phase 1 and 2 studies. I don’t have exact figures but it is said that for every product that gets through to phase 3 (safety and efficacy trials) more than 10-fold don’t make it that far. Safety is an endpoint of every phase of clinical trial processes.

          Regarding SIDS – a frightening condition, one that is thankfully decreasing with parents adhering more to the recommendations on this. I am not aware of any evidence suggesting vaccination and SIDS are in any way related.

          Without at all meaning to be dismissive – children in the first few months of life develop teeth. These teeth emerge some time after infants receive vaccines. Would anyone suggest that vaccination causes teeth? My example is simply to say that the co-occurence of events is not evidence of association and certainly not evidence of causation. BUT understanding rare risks is VERY important, and should continue to be pursued even after vaccine licensure and roll out. Because there are examples when we have learned about such effects and withdrawn vaccines from market. So we are ever vigilant for adverse events following vaccination.

          Different countries do different things, depending on local epidemiology, resource availability and so on. This is both appropriate and wise. The WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts is always reviewing global practice and strengthens local National Immunization Technical Advisory Groups who increasingly demand good local epidemiological data. This is wonderful, and allows for best practice and evidence based decision making.
          I hope this in part at least addresses your concerns.

  20. Dr. Bar-Zeev,
    I think that many people who are doing their own research get very nervous when they read about certain decisions made by ACIP, a committee of the CDC. I will give you just one example:

    Recently ACIP decided that if a child has one of these four reactions after the first dose of DtaP, they should still be given the second and third doses of the vaccine. The four reactions are:

    Fever of more than 105 degrees
    Persistent, inconsolable crying lasting more than three hours
    Collapsing or shock-like state

    Before this new decision, these were considered “adverse” reactions. Now they are considered “normal” reactions.

    The Merck manual states that encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) can occur when a virus directly infects the brain or when a virus, vaccine or something else triggers inflammation.

    Since all these four reactions are symptoms of possible encephalitis, can you please explain to us why a doctor would be instructed by ACIP to continue giving the subsequent doses of DtaP to a child with these reactions knowing that they could possibly be coming from encephalitis??

    I am sure that soon all the vaccines, not just DtaP, will have the same policy.

    It is decisions like this one that make many of us wary of the CDC and its committees, especially when we are aware of the rampant conflict of interest – as many members of ACIP, CDC, VRBPAC, and AAP have financial ties to vaccine manufacturers.

    Thank you very much for your time.

    • Dear Also asking,

      I want to mention something in your letter that seems minor, but it is crucial. You talk of “People who do their own research”. Research MUST be peer reviewed and open to scrutiny. It must be repeated whenever possible, validated and confirmed. Research is done, if you like, bechevrusa! There is a reason research is re-search. We search and then we search again and agin, and make our methods open and public. Looking something up in mishna berura is not the same as writing one’s own chiddushim on shas. lehavdil, finding out things that have been said is not the same thing as conducting research. Though it is a very important starting point for learning about a topic.

      The ACIP and similar bodies have to balance the real benefit of vaccines against their real risks. But more than this, they also have to impossibly balance against perceived risk. Like you don’t make a gezeira that the tzibbur cannot laámod ba – so too, if I produce a vaccine with difficult side effects, even if these are harmless, the risk to the whole vaccine program is substantial. People will refuse to get vaccinated. So all these decisions are made with the best available evidence, and weighing it all up to achieve the best protection of children.
      Regarding the specific side effects from DTP vaccine. I have seen all of them. They are very frightening. They resolve. They used to be more common with the old so-called whole cell DTP (DTwP). But because of these side effects we now use the “acellular” DTaP. This has fewer side effects. But it is also a less good vaccine! So immunity to pertussis (whooping cough) wanes over 10-15 years. So that by the time our young mothers and fathers re having babies, these young parents are susceptible again and can get whooping cough which can be severely harmful to their newborns. So there is a trade-off between side effects and longevity of immune response. In low income countries DTwP is still used, and there is very little whooping cough. The increase in whooping cough cases has occurred in recent years largely in wealthy countries. This is the cost of having to have vaccines that cause no side effects at all.
      Best wishes and good health,

      • Thank you for your response. I still don’t understand how a doctor knows if the child is having encephalitis – brain inflammation. – or not. Are you saying it is ok for a child’s brain to be inflamed temporarily? How come these reactions used to be considered adverse then? Thank you.

  21. Dr,
    you mention that we should all be following the CDC recommended schedule and don’t seem to allow for any exceptions to this? Is there any other area of medicine that is practiced in the same with every patient without any personalization?

    Obviously in the times of a measles outbreak it is easy to argue the MMR vaccine, but what about something like Hep B or Guardsil in the frum community, are these vaccines really necessary just because the CDC recommends?

    It troubles me that the vaccine argument seems to be either people advocating we follow CDC guidelines 100% or we don’t vaccinate at all. Is there not a middle ground where we eliminate vaccines that seem unnecessary and have high incidences of parents reporting injury (again Hep B and Guardsil are both for diseases that are either sexually transmitted or from sharing needles and also notorious for adverse reactions).

    As parents it seems that the pediatricians don’t like to discuss vaccines, they prefer we just come in and do what they say and move on this could perhaps be due to their overwhelming workload. I would welcome an open and frank discussion with you to discuss the various CDC and NIH articles i’ve read and see if i’m perhaps interpreting them incorrectly.

    • Dear …equal,
      If we want to stop the current outbreak we should follow the CDC guidance to the letter. We are speaking of managing something at community level, which is why I went into the concept of areivus ze la’ze. There are some rare individuals for whom vaccination is not advised. Such people have no other protection except that thise around them are vaccinated.
      So personalised medicine is fine when it comes to you. But when your individual choices affect others, your rights to do what you want have to be balanced against the inadvertant harm you could unwittingly cause.
      I know a frum adult whose mother decided not to vaccinate her/him as a child. As an adult this person also chose to not get vaccinated. Only that on an international trip s/he contracted measles, and travelled through a major international airport sick with the disease, and recovered at home. That few hour sojourn in a major airport infecting travellers all over the world with measles is likely to have contributed to major dissemination globally of this infection. Of course they didn’t want to get sick, and they would never have wanted to hurt others. But the fact is that they did cause immeasurable harm through their prior decision to not get vaccinated.
      So I am not saying it is all or nothing. I am saying that very many responsible and thoughtful people all over the world think long and hard about the best policies for the community. They are well educated, balanced, honest, scrupulous people. They should be trusted, and they should be answerable to skeptics and the community. But at the same time, it is not a hefker velt. Ish kol hayashar beéinav yaase is not good public health policy. But such policy has to be balanced against individual choice and rights, etc.

    • While on the topic of Gardasil, I have another question. During the clinical trials for Gardasil the placebo used (except for a minority of participants who got a saline solution) was an aluminum injection. How does this make sense?

      For this reason and others, BMJ published a scathing critique — “The Cochrane HPV vaccine review was incomplete and ignored evidence of bias.”

      In addition, briefing documents submitted to FDA’s VRPBAC by Merck indicated there was no viral DNA in the vaccine. Merck Frosst Canada Ltd also said no viral DNA was in their product. Ditto for Sanofi Pasteur in the United Kingdom, and ditto for Merck Sharp & Dohme in Australia and New Zealand.

      US Patent #6,602,697 granted to Merck states: “Specifically it has been found that most contaminating biomolecules, including DNA….are removed from the lysate.”

      However when it was discovered that in fact there was recombinant HPV L1- specific DNA in Gardasil, the FDA said that they knew along that there was this DNA in the vaccine. Statements included these words, “The presence of these expected DNA fragments, which are inevitable in vaccine production….” “This DNA is not a contaminant…” “After purification of vaccine, small quantities of residual recombinant HPV L1- specific DNA fragments remain in the vaccine.”

      Why did the manufacturers state there was no viral DNA when in fact there was?

      These and other disturbing things are why some people are very wary of vaccines.

      • Guardarsil is beyond the scope of this discussion. There are very specific reasons why placebo may or may not contain adjuvants. This is an area of careful deliberation by scientists and reviewers, and needs no defense here.
        It is great that in the scientific literature there are scathing critiques. This keeps us all accountable. baa’lei terisin as it were.
        This should increase your confidence in the scientific and public health community not decrease it.

        • Dear Also asking,
          I will add only one personal comment about Guardarsil. In my own home we had a death from cervical cancer. It is among the most common malignancies in women. Nowadays it is largely preventable by vaccination. That is such an amazing brocha, and I only wish it was available long before. Vaccines for prevention of cancer is new ground, yes. But ashreinu that we are zoche to merit such refuos in our lifetimes.
          kol tuv

  22. Hi doc,

    According to the CDC’s website, measles cases were estimated to be at 3-4 million a year before the vaccine was created. Given that there were about 400-500 deaths a year, 48, 000 hospitalizations, and 1000 cases of encephalitis, that results in about a .01% rate of death, a 1.2% chance of hospitalization, and a .025% chance of encephalitis. Seems like it was hardly the scary disease we are made to believe it is. In addition, measles death rates were continuing to decline globally before the vaccine, as can be viewed by many graphs online. Today the death rate is at .1%, higher than previously determined, yet still in the negatives. Due to widespread vaccination there are 3 groups of people who are at an increased risk due to complications. Infants, who used to be protected by their mom’s antibodies (much stronger than vaccination) for up to a year, are now only protected for around 3 months. Pregnant women are now at risk, when they would’ve already had the illness in their youth. And adults, who used to make up 3% of measles cases, now make up 67%. Why do you mislead, and state the safety of the MMR vaccine, when no case-controlled placebo study has been done, AND there is a detailed vaccine insert clearly delineating associsted risks, some of which include encephalitis and SSPE? How can you weigh risks vs benefits of vaccination when you cannot adequately determine the risks?

    • You are so correct. There’s only been one or two deaths from measles since 2004, but yet there have been 114 reported deaths from the MMR in the US. The CDC also states on their website that reported adverse events are less than 10% and can be as low as 1%, so it’s possible that the number of deaths from MMR can actually be higher. At least one of the cases of death from measles was a woman who had received the MMR vaccine a few weeks earlier, had contracted pneumonia (which should have been listed as the cause of death) but since they discovered measles during the autopsy, her cause of death was listed as measles. As a child, I had measles and it wasn’t considered a big deal. We were told when a child in the neighborhood had measles, we should all go over to play at that child’s house to get measles “over with”. The hype that measles was something to fear only came about after the vaccine was created. Measles is considered a self-limiting disease that includes a rash and low grade fever and resolves within about 7 to 10 days. It’s more of a problem for those older than 50 years old that have never been exposed, not for the babies.

  23. Dr. Bar-Zeev,

    Thank you for taking the time to address this very important issue.

    I do have a concern about vaccinations, in regards to the pharmaceutical companies who manufacture them. It seems that in 1986, Pharma was granted legal immunity from any vaccine injuries resulting from the vaccines they manufacture. I have a very hard time with this. It is well known and documented that pharmaceutical companies have been very corrupt and money hungry. If they have ZERO liability, then what exactly is going to be the incentive for a pharmaceutical company to provide a safe vaccine. It is also interesting to note that within a few years of being granted legal immunity the child vaccine schedule multiplied by 5 times the amount given to children. This is not ok. Would you buy a car where the company had no liability and no oversight? Would you put your child in a carseat made by a manufacturer that had no liability??
    Furthermore, when Ronald Reagan granted big pharma legal immunity, congress required that the secretary of HHS provide biennial reports to congress detailing the improvements to vaccine safety. This was to ensure that the vaccine manufacturers were to make safe vaccines and keep them in check. Unfortunately there has never been one report done, not once, since 1986.

    This makes me extremely uncomfortable, perhaps you can address this.

    • Hi Perry,
      Agree the protection from lawsuits is a controversial issue that should have community debate. Both sides have valid points. I don’t need to express my own opinion on this here, because it hardly matters.
      What does matter is that there is nobody to sue when one’s child gets measles because one chose not to vaccinate. If we vaccinate against measles our children will be protected.
      There are regular reports and publication on vaccine safety. Agree more funding for this important issue would be very welcome.

  24. Show us the proof that these drugs are not dangerous. There are no long term studies so it is impossible to know the long term effects.

    Also why are we up in arms about the unvaxxed children when adult immunity has long worn off? Are the rabbis and doctors planning to force adult boosters next?

    • Dear Concerned about Shots,
      I am afraid the onus of proof as things stand is upon you. You want to stop us vaccinating? Then aleicha haraaýa! Yes we need to ensure vaccines are safe, absolutely. But it is not in any dispute that NOT vaccinating is harmful.
      Your comment about no long term studies is not informed. You don’t need to inform yourself, but spreading concern that adversely affects vaccination uptake in the community is a violence to the community. There is a limit to what is tolerable in discourse. First do no harm, applies to doctors and scientists but it also applies to you.

      There are adult boosters for some infections, and I applaud that this is available to us.


  25. HaHaHaHaHa!!!! So now the anti-vaxxers are discrediting the CDC, the ACIP, the AAP, the WHO, and virtually every other reputable medical body who have worked so hard to provide the best information and recommendations for modern medicine. I’ve come to the conclusion that anti-vaxxers would prefer blood-letting, cupping, leeches, skull trepanation, and animal dung treatments to modern medicine. If we’d leave it up to them, medicine would be back in the 1800s. I presume of course that they don’t believe in treating cancer because none of those studies are ever double blind placebo controlled. I hope you never need to know! What lunacy! Since I see that the only ones that are posting any more are the anti-vaxxers, it’s clear that normal people have just begun to ignore all of this, as will I after this last post. The good news is that, like it or not, all parents except for 6 have given in and vaccinated. B”H the abuse of the other children has been stopped! Thank you to our amazing Lakewood schools for being so responsible!

  26. Dr,

    According to the MMR’s insert, some complications include autoimmune disorders, encephalitis, and death. If we reached close to a 100% vaccination rate that would mean 100% possibility in severe side effects and death. Someone is going to die. Would you be in favor of throwing a child in front of a bus if it would save all the passengers? Personally, i don’t care how many lives we save with vaccination, it isnt worth one mandated death sentence. I understand why you may want to take that risk upon yourself, but please explain how its ethical to force others to take to do so?

    • Dear Sara,
      Not vaccinating is a greater death sentence for more people.
      Do you drive a car? Do you cross the road? Why do this if you know that sometimes people die in traffic?
      Risks are a balance, they are not absolute on one side or another.
      For any single individual child at birth – the harm from not vaccinating is greater than the harm from vaccinating. There will be more children in front of your proverbial bus under your policy than under mine. Believe me, for me children dying is not a theoretical abstract game. They are real, I have cared for them, I remember every face, I remember every name. Your reasoning is unfortunately flawed. Would be useful for you to reconsider.
      Very best wishes and a good shabbos,

  27. This post is for the 99.9% of you who DO vaccinate so any anti-vaxxers can ignore this. This is by way of explanation – not c”v justification – for why “anti-vaxxers” continue to hold on to their outlandish opinions, since I’m sure that you -like I – can’t fathom how apparently-intelligent frum people could apparently believe in this nonsense. The fact is that, with very few outliers, all anti-Vaxxers are young. They have never seen a case of smallpox, they have never seen a case of polio, they have never seen a case of Hib, they have never seen a congenital rubella baby. Due to the overwhelming success of vaccination (listed on all listings as among the top 5-10 medical advances of the last century, usually #1) none of them have seen a person with smallpox (and had they known of a case, they would most certainly not let contacts be out of their house, much less in school), a person unable to breathe and in an iron lung due to polio (worth looking at pictures of iron lung wards online), a child dying due to Hib meningitis, a blue baby breathing her last breath after a bout of whooping cough, a child choking to death from diphtheria, a child who has an immune problem die from chickenpox, or a newborn with the devastation of congenital rubella. I can tell you that there were no anti-vaxxers when polio was around, there was no one who refused a smallpox vaccination, and, yes, there was NO ONE who didn’t want their child to be vaccinated against measles. Had any of the current crop of anti-vaxxers seen any of these cases, they would be leading the PRO-vaxxer movement. The fact that they haven’t seen these things is 100% due to vaccination. I didn’t think I’d ever see another case of measles! How terrible – and what a chillul Hashem that we are seeing a disproportionate number in frum communities! I hope you will all daven that this fringe cult won’t take the frum communities back to the days when we are once again seeing these devastating and deadly diseases.

    • Agree completely.

      Yes it is a devastating chilul hashem that davka we – rak am chacham ve’navon – are seeing this measles resurgence. That the world looks and sees high rates in the Jewish community because the community reject science is a bizayon for the Torah and a violence to our own children.

      Lo taávir bincha u’vischo baésh! Once it was the avoida zara of Molech, and now it is this.

      Ezkera elokim veéhemaya
      Biróti kol ir al tila benuya
      veír ha’elokim mushpeles ad she’ol tachtiya!

  28. Benefits out weigh risks

    Of course benefits will outweigh the risks when your doctor tells you that the reaction is not related to the vaccine.
    The reactions are ignored brushed away and mothers are belittled
    A mother knows her child better than anyone in the world. If she says something happened to her child after vaccination why isnt she believed?
    Where is after market surveillance if no one reports anything?
    For us moms, the trust is gone
    How can they possibly say the benefits outweigh the risks?!

    • Deb,
      Your worries and fears are valid and understandable.
      Your reasoning about causation is incorrect.
      Available safety data are valid and reliable, but more would be better.
      Your desire for more postmarketing survelliance is spot on. This is occurring, but more would be better.
      Trust needs to be tested, but when it is gone entirely what is the way back? When trust is replaced by anger (even justifiable anger) what remains? Who will be there to support you if you have no trust?
      Genuine best wishes and a good shabbos,

  29. For all those that want to know what dass Torah’s position on vaccinations, r elya brudney and r elephant spoke about it at the Agudah Convention tonight. Get the tape, it’s very enlightening. R brudney trashed the anti Vaxers, well worth it to listen.

    • anyone who trashes anti vaxxers didn’t sit down to talk to them.
      everyone thinks they know why ppl don’t vaccinate.
      they have no idea
      until there is transparency and open conversation nothing will happen
      you can’t be sure I won’t listen the shiur trashing anti vaxxers

      • Dear deb,
        I agree with you completely. I have very close friends who are antivaxxers. We have deep disagreement on this issue, but I value them and their opinions, and how they are trying to raise their children. This is not just token “some of my best friends are Jews/Gay/Purple/Martian/OTD/Gentiles”, this is the truth.
        I am being as transparent and open as I can be.
        I am listening to people’s genuine concerns. Some are poorly informed, some are very well informed. The minute we stop listening we stop learning and stop caring.
        May we be zoche to real listening – Od hem medabrim, va’ani eshma!
        Our main statement of faith twice a day tells us to listen.
        The duty to listen is upon me, and it is also upon you.
        Best wishes

  30. Hi Naor,

    I am no doctor or scientist. My wife has spent hours reading and researching vaccines and had decided to delay vaccines for my daughter until 6 months. During that time she asked our pediatrician many questions that he did not answer, he only laughed them off and threatened that we would need to leave his practice if we didn’t comply and catch her up very quickly.
    We switched practices not because we are anti vax but because we wanted answers before we vaccinated. (my wife is very much like that in all areas by the way, not just vaccines)
    She is now 2, and I have to admit that as unscientific as this sounds, we really feel that she is a lot healthier Boruch Hashem than all her relatives and friends in school.
    She has never had an ear infection or any of the common childhood sicknesses (other than a mild cold here and there). She talks more, has no allergies etc and I know this proves nothing but I just have that slight hunch that my wife was right and my child is the way most children should be but due to vaccinations so many are delayed and have allergies or autoimmune disorders.

    • What a fool ! You need to understand everything before you do things? You question your Rabbanim and Doctors who have spent many years of study and practice and don’t listen to them unless they explain to you all the intricacies bringing them to their decision ? May the Ribonei Shel Olam watch over your children and not punish them for the foolishness of their parents.

    • Thank you a father.
      i can say the same.
      my first child was was vaccinated as per CDC schedule.
      he was on antibiotics his entire first year of life for ear infections. he was ALWAYS sick
      fast forward
      my 5 year old unvaccinated child just got his first ear infection. i can count on my hand how many times he went to the doctor for an ill visit.
      my 18 month old went to the doctor for an ill visit ONCE!!!
      this is also not proof of anything, but my unvaccinated kids are WAY healthier than my vaxxed ones.
      just saying

    • You mentioned that your wife spent hours doing research.
      All these doctors and scientists probably spent at least 1,000 hours of research. 1,000 professionals times 1,000 hours = 1 million hours.

    • Hi father,
      Great to hear your child is thriving. There is no greater joy than this.
      Your lovely child remains susceptible to the infections that vaccine swill protect her against. In past years when vaccination levels in the community was high, your daughter would have managed to avoid infection because she would have been cocooned by those vaccinated around her. Now as more parents have chosen your path, the vulnerability has increased, as we see now with the current avoidable measles outbreak.
      For your daughter’s sake, please consider now protecting her with vaccination.
      Best wishes and much nachess

    • Very interesting theory! With my last baby I delayed vaccines by more than 6 months and this kid has more ear infections, wheezing etc.then any of my other children. I’m glad it worked for you but it’s an assumption!

  31. Hi Dr. Naor,
    Quick q: I’m pro vax and have always vaxxed on schedule. My baby is nearing 6 months now. I kno the 1st dose of mmr is generally given at 12 months- is it truly safe to be given now at 6 months due to the recent outbreak? I look fwd to ur reply, Thank you!
    Concerned mother

    • Dear Smart lkwd mom,
      Yes it is safe given at 6 months. But it is less effective than given later. Public health policy weighs up lower immunogenicity at 6 month vs delaying till you get slight better immunogenicity but leaving you exposed.
      When there is little measles around then delaying is the better option. In the midst of a measles outbreak it is clearly better to vaccinate sooner and get somewhat lesser but still substantial protection at 6 months.
      Also note that the studies on proportion achieving protection is not the same as in a single person. So for example if 80% of the people achieve protection, this is not to say that each person is only 80% protected. The people who are protected are fully protected. So yes, go and vaccinate as per current CDC and local health authority guidance.

      Best wishes,

  32. Dear travel agent, how could you ever sell anyone travel a ticket to travel on an airplane??? Are you murderers? Can you prove to me that absolutely everyone on airplanes is safe?

    You say you rely on the FAA for airline safety?? They are all liars!

    They know how unsafe an airplane can be! I personally read on the internet about a plane crash, in which people died!

    Since they absolutely know that people died from airplanes, how could they say anyway that it is a safe way to travel? They are bold-faced liars!!

    I know how they can say it, it’s because they , and the Congress and Senate, have been bought off by the airline industry! I can prove how much the airline industry profits from people flying on airplanes, by looking it up on the internet! Guess how much?? Billions $$$$!!!

    I can prove that they are liars and nothing they say can be believed; please read the following articles:

    “Scientist proves that some airplanes do crash”

    “I tested an airplane in my basement, and couldn’t figure out how it flies”

    Also, did you know that airplanes use fuel known as Jet-A and Jet-B? Mr Travel agent, can you prove that these jet fuels are absolutely safe? Show us the proof in a way that we who never studied aviation or engineering can understand! HA, I knew you couldn’t!

    Since you know that some people have died in plane crashes, how could you ever sell an innocent person a ticket? Is it worth throwing even one child “under the bus” so that billions of other people can travel??

    Being that I dont really understand how a plane can ever really fly because I dont really understand every aspect of its engineering, and being that you can never trust any authority about anything, and being that I have seen contradictory opinions about it on the internet, I would never endanger my children, who are obviously more precious to me than your children are to you, I will never fly or let my children fly on an airplane.


      You really worked hard to match every detail in the mashal to the nimshal. But it doesn’t help with the main point. Sorry.

      Chances of dying are all over, not only on planes. Hashem is the master of life and death and you must agree that whoever is worried about flying on a plane is missing Bitachon. However with vaccines it is not this way. To knowingly inject neurotoxins which have great chances at effecting your child- whether big or small – is a very different story… For what benefit? Do we have to sicken ourselves when we are perfectly healthy? When this will make us become from the immunocompromised? Yes, there are many children who have a genetic susceptibility to be affected by the shots – my children included. My oldest was fully vaccinated and her immune system was badly affected. Now, when she was getting sick with strep every month without even getting a fever to fight it or for me to know she was sick – for a couple of days – she was affecting the immunocompromised much more, than my child who is not vaccinated and is BH fully healthy. And if he gets the measles, he will run a fever and he won’t expose anyone – cuz I willl keep him home.

      And, yes even if I would know of a plane that crashed, I would continue flying. But after what I learned about genetic susceptibility it is pretty sure to affect my children – and so, that wouldn’t be the right thing for me to do!

      Pilots haven’t studied aviation – they just learn how to fly the planes. And most doctors hadn’t studied vaccines – they just administer them. The doctors that do study it have two mehalchim – one goes and studies the cdc website, and one does his own in-depth research. The latter has a very different opinion about vaccine safety than you!

    • No one is ever forced to fly. If someone is not comfortable with the airline or with the safety standards set by the FAA, they don’t ever have to get on a plane if they don’t want to.

    • Hi Eli,
      Thanks for that.
      I would only say further – not flying is perfectly safe. So as an anti-flyaxxer I can always happily choose not to fly. My choice is safe to myself and others.
      But not vaccinating is more dangerous than vaccinating, both to myself and to those around me.
      Either way – there is a constituency that is genuinely worried and uncertain, and there is a constituency that is anti lishma. I have no concern about antivaxxers. I owe them no answers or time. I only owe time to those children who should be receiving vaccines and are not and will end up sick or worse lo aleinu. I owe them my time, diligence and honest best efforts.
      Best wishes

    • are you trying to be funny here?
      you know that what you are writing has nothing to do with the topic.
      how can you compare an airplane which
      a. is not mandated, meaning if you don’t want to go on an airplane no one will force you to. VACCINES ARE MANDATED
      b. airlines and aircraft manufacturers are liable for any mistake that they make. They can be sued
      vaccine makers CANNOT
      c. an airplane that does not crash does not have any other adverse side effects and then the whole plane ride was safe (unless you catch measles on the plane)
      A VACCINE IS TOXIC in it’s metzius. so even if you don’t suffer any immediate side effects, we have no idea what happens in the body afterwards and how long toxins stay in and harm the body.
      you can very happily not fly. that is your choice
      VACCINES should be a choice too.

      • Dear deb,
        Vaccines are not mandatory in the US, nobody is forcing you. You have a choice.

        If you find that your choice to not vaccinate leads to the community not supporting you or ostracizing you, that may be unpleasant for you, but it arises from a sense that you are causing them harm. Outside of this public forum people who are immune suppressed have contacted me expressing their fear. This is unfair on them.

        We ostracize mesarvei gittin because they are flagrantly doing harm. It is their choice, and they have legal power to be mesarev, but we exclude them because their choice is morally bankrupt and hurtful. This is analogous. There is a limit to how tolerant and understanding society should be. My professional duty is to explain to the community the risks and benefits. My duty as a father is to protect my children from infection and other real risks, and to weigh up real immediate risks against possible risks of lower likelihood. To balance risks now against future risks. It is not easy sometimes.

        Our free choices must be curtailed. I cannot choose to harm my own children, and I certainly cannot choose to harm other people’s children.

        Your statement that “a vaccines is toxic in it’s metzius” is entirely false.
        Your statement that “we have no idea” is also incorrect. We have very good idea of what happens when we do not vaccinate and the enormous harm this causes, even in the contemporary world.

        Under US law you are indeed free to chose what you want. Under halakhic law there is a capacity to be koifin al middas sedom. One might argue this holds here, though I am sadly very very far from an expert in halakha.

        So – critically but genuinely respectfully,

  33. Hi Eli,
    Can’t stop laughing! Thanks for the terrific analogy as to why anti-vaxxer arguments make no sense! Thanks for “injecting” some humor into this ongoing diatribe!

  34. Hi eli,

    Your airplane metaphor is cute, but you forgot to mention the government doesn’t force anyone to fly on airplanes (and grant legal immunity to airlines). False equivalency, but nice try.

  35. Dr. Bar-Zeev,

    Why do we give hep b to all infants? It is not a communicable disease, so why not only give it to the babies who would be at risk of contracting it from their mothers?

    • Hi Question,
      Your hava amina is wrong. Hepatitis B is caused by a virus that is highly infectious (though not as infectious as measles).

      • I”m sorry but are we talking about the same disease?? Hep B is an STD. I verified this by checking the CDC website, WebMD and the Mayo Clinic. The only way to transmit this disease is through blood and bodily fluid. That would make it as contagious as AIDS. Not something I worry about on a daily basis and certainly not for a 1 day old child.

  36. While your plane analogy I flawed,
    The conclusion of your “travel agent agent the murderer “ is that his client is crazy.
    While that can be true or not is irrelevant, at the end of the the day the person has a choice to go on the plane or not and not to be forced to take a flight, that’s his decision.
    Ppl who stoped vaccinating are not telling you you “ don’t fly “ they just want to decide for themselves and not to be told what is best for their kids by others.
    No one knows what’s best for my kids better then me and my wife.

    Safe travels …

  37. Eli, your analogy is faulty for many reasons. The main one being that nobody is being forced to buy an airplane ticket. Nobody is being kicked out of school for not flying.

    Where there is risk, there MUST be choice.

  38. OK everyone, thank you for this engaging conversation. It is erev shabbos, and I’ve got to go. I’ve tried to respond to everybody openly and fully.

    Please advocate your family, friends, rabbonim, schools to continue the leadership shown in Lakewood to frum communities further afield. Much of the frum world looks to Lakewood and is guided by behavior there. We are all responsible for our children. Not just those we physically bore, but all those the hkb”h gave to us as a community to care for. Remember also the inherent link between the well being of our children and the kovod hatorah!
    Rak am chacham ve’navon ha-goi hagodol haze. ki mi goi godol asher lo elokim keroivim elav, kaHashem elokeinu bechol koréinu elav!

    May this kirva of hashem elokeinu bring health and happiness and zechus and yiras shamoim bekerev haaretz here in this world mamash.

    Good shabbos

  39. A father,
    I can totally relate. When I had my first child I started to look into the topic of vaccines. I went to multiple pediatricians to have a conversation and I asked a lot of questions. I received nothing but the threats. My husband and I decided to hold off on vaccinating. Thank G-d my kids have never had an ear infection. They have never had a round of antibiotics either. From both sides of our large extended family we are the only ones who do not have children with neurological problems, autism spectrum disorder, learning disabilities, auto-immune disorders, asthma, anaphylactic allergies.
    Obviously, there are underlying vulnerabilities in the family. What I cannot understand is why there is no screening before implementing the entire regimen of vaccines on every child starting the date of birth. I did not do testing for MTHFR or other gene mutations or underlying mitochondrial issues. why aren’t doctors screening in any way? Aside from infectious disease there are different types of diseases that people are at risk for.

  40. To a father
    My 2 year is extremely advanced , she talks and interacts like an adult , no exaggeration , she has been trained since 18 months and is very physically agile BH. She has barely been sick Bh. AND SHE IS FULLY VACCINATED.
    You also might be interested in knowing that the few times she has been sick has been after her vaccinations ( which in full disclosure I do stagger) , she came down with high fever ( as do most of my kids) and was very irritable etc .but the fever resolved and she bounced back to herself . I believe in keeping my children and EVERYONE else’s children healthy by doing the normal accepted RIGHT thing .

  41. Scoop: Please post the R”Y, HaRav HaGaon Aharon Schechter, Shlit”a’s letter stating that “anyone without up to date vaccinations should refrain from being in the Yeshiva community,” and that “someone having a shita against vaccination is not an exception and needs to comply.” B”H, we now have clear da’as Torah (if past p’sakim were not sufficient). Anyone not complying is going against da’as Torah. No need for any more discussion. The p’sak is clear: Get vaccinated NOW!! No more excuses!!!

  42. Not Black: Let me explain to you something about science. I’m very happy for you that your children did not experience any of the illnesses you indicated; however, that does not mean at all that their lack of vaccination had anything to do with it. If you think or are implying that it did, you need to read something about statistics, clinical trials, controlled studies, spurious correlation, anecdotal information, etc. this is actually the problem with the “research” the anti-vaxxers do-it is meaningless. This elementary introduction to science should be incorporated even into a Yeshiva/bais Yaakov education so that frum people don’t continue to make these kinds of grievous mistakes when reading anything that comes their way.

  43. This questions is for dr naor bar zeev what would u advice of attending a chnauuka party with one of my siblings that doesn’t vaccinate his family I do not want to hurt my paretns or my sibling he is just following his wifes convictions.my mother is not so concerned as my brothers chidren are bh healthy but my wife is concerned about allowing my children to attend all my children are vaccinated and my youngest is a 9 year old
    Thanks in advance

  44. Hi Dr,

    I appreciate you taking the time to respond to my question, but respectfully, not only did you evade the question, you used fear-mongering as some sort of response. If vaccination saves many lives, fantastic, go ahead and do it for yourself. Since vaccines come with risks, in particular, a death sentence for at least someone, it is unethical to mandate. Would you want all drugs to be mandated? Why are vaccines different? You may think that a person is making an unwise choice, bu it is immoral for you to make that choice for them. (And, I might add, especially since the child is perfectly healthy and in no threat of imminent danger.) When I drive, I choose to take that risk. When I cross the road, I choose to take that risk. No one forces me into a car, and no one forces me across the road. I think you misunderstood my bus analogy. My analogy is perfect, because I actually described what YOU think would happen without vaccines. There will be many casualties right? Perhaps, in my scenario, where people get to make their own health decisions, there will be even more passengers on that bus, soon to head over a cliff. And yet, I still don’t believe it is ethical to force mandate the murder of one child to save all those lives. I beg of you to please stop with the fear-mongering about the deadliness of these diseases, most of which were in decline and benign at the onset of mass vaccination. Furthermore, many of us “anti-vaxxers” can employ the same tactics to describe children seriously injured by vaccines. Only in those cases, its far more egregious because no doctor will admit has occurred to the child, and the mom is considered delusional and must cope with the tragedy completely alone. If you would like to bring people to your side, I would suggest that the first thing you can do is address the utter lack of transparency and gross denial when it comes to vaccine injuries. I look forward to reading your response.

  45. Thank you so much for taking the time to calm the fears of the many parents who just want the best for their children we could use more doctors like you! May Hashem bless you!

  46. Dear friends,

    I am unable to continue responding to comments on this forum. I have given quite a bit of my limited time.

    Most posts have been thoughtful and important. Some have been denigrating or ridiculing to others and I would ask people to avoid such language. (Several have personally attacked me for intentionally misleading, or being dishonest or whatever, attacks on my person are uncalled for and lower the value of public discourse.)

    Anybody with questions regarding their personal circumstances should discuss this with their own physician.

    For those reading through the comments please be cautious of posts that are making claims that vaccination kills people or that measles is a harmless disease. Anybody implying in their post-title to be medically trained who encourages persons with measles to congregate and spread the disease is directly increasing the likelihood of severe outcomes and bears very grave moral responsibility for subsequent suffering their advice is causing, and are oiver on bifnei iver, putting a stumbling block before the blind, and let this be a formal hatraá to such persons – yedeichem damim male’u (Yeshaya 1:15). Please everyone disregard such posts they are dangerous and malicious.

    Wishing you all health, good judgement and wisdom.
    Finish off by quoting Rebbe Nachman – For the Jewish person must always observe the wisdom that there is in each and every thing, and bind one’s self to the wisdom and knowledge that is in each thing. In order that the wisdom in each thing shall shine for him that (s/)he may become closer to Hashem Yisborach through that thing. For understanding is a great light, which shines for him(/her) in all his(/her) paths, as is said (koheles 8:1) The wisdom of a person illuminates his face. (likkutei mohara”n 1)
    Thank you,

  47. @Sara, your premise is flawed. If a child has an infection which can lead to death or be treated with antibiotics which also can lead to death in a extremely rare dangerous reaction. It’s not only ethical to require that the child get the antibiotics, it’s unethical not to give it. Everyone agrees that there’s a risk of a rare dangerous reaction however, the risk of serious illness or c’v death from measles is much higher and thus it’s not only ethical to require vaccination, it’s the Halacha as per Rav Elyashiv Zt’l and many others.

    • Mordechai, your premise is flawed. You are giving an example of a sick child and whether or not he should pursue medical treatment. Sara is talking about a perfectly healthy child without any illness and is in no imminent sign of danger. Two very different scenarios.

    • The psak given by R’ Elyashiv is as good as the question posed to him. For example, if he is told that measles causes death in 1-2 of 1000 cases, and that the Drs say that there reactions to vaccines are very rare, and gives a psak based on that, the psak is as valid as the shailah posed.

  48. Dr. 2 questions
    1. The CDC is recommending that children who received the MMR at 6 months get Two additional ones. Why not get a blood test to see if it worked?

    2. Is the MMR effective for life?


  49. Dear Doctor,
    Thank you so much for responding to so many people.
    You are right that there were a few not nice comments. Let us look at the bigger picture. We can assume that at least 15,000 families read your article. 2 nasty comments should not be a surprise.
    Again Thank you for helping our community.

  50. There is one point that I have not seen anyone bring up yet. That is, Hashem!! Hashem runs the world according to Teva. If it’s now considered normal to vaccinate (I think we all agree on both sides that rov vaccinate)then Hashem runs the world that vaccines will protect us! (Or make you sick if you are supposed to get sick anyway!) Because that’s what’s considered normal in the world. (I didnt make this up…This is what R’Elyashiv said as reported by R’ Akiva Tatz)
    Another point. Do you think you (anti vaxxers) can outsmart Hashem? If your child is meant to be autistic you can avoid that by not vaccinating? Maybe all your children are so so healthy like you claim and Hashem gave you a different tzara in life instead! We don’t know Hashems cheshbonos but if your kid is supposed to get an ear infection, strep etc he/she will regardless of vaccines! My kids very rarely get sick BH, maybe its the vaccines that made them so healthy! I’m kidding obv! It’s a gift from Hashem! I think its a bit of apikorses to take such credit for your children’s health!
    Vaccines may possibly be full of poison but Hashem says not to be different then the tzibbur and by following Hashem I’m in his protection! I rest my case 🙂

  51. Anon, that can work the other way too. No one wipl get the measles unless Hashem wants them too.
    There are rabanim that say not to vaccinate. For those of us who believe risk completely outweighs the benefit, hishtadlus for us is not to vaccinate and for those of you who dont believe that Hashem runs the world will be scared silly that you can catch measles from our healthy children.

  52. Dear Professor Bar-Zeev,

    May you receive your due from hashem for your patience, civility, knowledge and claritwy.
    Thank you for taking the time and trouble to speak up for the good of the community and clal yisroel.

    Lena Spooner

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