October 22, 2019

Bikur Cholim’s Open Letter Urging Community to Vaccinate Against Measles

Photo from Pixabay.

Below is Bikur Cholim’s open letter encouraging Jewish community leaders to speak out encourage Jewish day schools to require vaccines in light of the recent measles outbreak.

The threat of measles in Los Angeles is now a real and present danger.  Measles is one of the most contagious diseases in existence, placing the most vulnerable among us at life-threatening risk.  Children infected with measles can present devastating consequences not just to themselves, but to the public at large.  Tragically, we are now seeing children and adults hospitalized; and worse yet, dying from measles.

We are asking all synagogue Rabbis to publicly speak on the critical importance of vaccinations.  On issues of health and public safety, decisions in Jewish law are based on the opinions of the majority of medical experts.  In cases of measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), the opinion held by the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, and tens of thousands of physicians is that vaccinations must be taken as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  It is our position that there is an obligation to be vaccinated and no basis that immunizations should be avoided unless medically indicated.

Parents must ensure that all of their children’s immunizations are up-to-date.  Parents of unvaccinated children should immediately call their pediatrician to schedule their child to be vaccinated.  Those who are uninsured and/or under-insured can contact the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health at (213) 351-7800 or visit http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/ip/ for free or low-cost vaccination information.

Many adults, particularly those born in 1957 or later, have also been affected by recent outbreaks.  The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health strongly recommends that educators, infant/day-care providers, caregivers for the immunocompromised, healthcare professionals, women of childbearing age who are not pregnant, and international travelers have a second dose (booster) of the measles immunization. Adults not in this group should contact their physician for guidance.

Any child or adult symptomatic of measles must be isolated soonest and a physician should be immediately contacted.  If a physician is not available, then please call the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Bikur Cholim is urging Jewish day schools/yeshiva principals to adopt our Private School Immunization Policy which does not allow non-vaccinated students to attend school.  We are also working closely with California Senator Richard Pan in support of SB 276 which will restore integrity to California’s medical exemption process by requiring future vaccination medical exemptions to be reviewed and issued by the California Department of Public Health.

We must remain resolute in protecting the health and well-being of our children, families, and the public – “venishmartem meod lenafshoteichem”.

Respectfully,
Rabbi Hershy Z. Ten
BIKUR CHOLIM, President

Rabbi Jonathon Rosenberg, President
RABBINICAL COUNCIL OF CALIFORNIA

Irving Lebovics, DDS, Chairman
AGUDATH ISRAEL OF CALIFORNIA

Rabbi Yosef Y. Shusterman
CHABAD, GREATER LOS ANGELES

Robert Adler, MD
CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL LOS ANGELES

Jacob Fleischmann, MD
INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST

Sheldon Kishineff, MD
FACEY MEDICAL GROUP

Alice Kuo, MD, President Chapter 2
AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS, CA

Ronald Nagel, MD
LA PEER PEDIATRICS