Medical Convo about Mumps and Judaism

vaccination[1]I was at the doctor today – follow up to the kidney infection that apparently has now metamorphasized into a kidney stone (got to love our healthcare system). This fellow could see I was a religious Jew – the sheitel, modest dress and the Hebrew necklace that I wear. He started talking to me about the mumps outbreak that seems to have hit a lot of the Jewish schools here. He heard it started at a religious camp in the Catskills and that a lot of the religious kids in Brooklyn are sick with it too. He wanted to know why if there is an outbreak the non-Jewish kids weren’t sick.

He asked me if there were sects of Jews who refuse to vaccinate their children due to religious reasons. I was honestly very surprised at the question, although thinking back, I shouldn’t have been. I explained to him that I highly doubt it. After all we are commanded to look after ourselves – venishmartem et nafshoteichem. If we need blood transfusions or surgery we have to do what we can to ensure our life isn’t in jeopardy. Vaccinating, I believe, falls into the same category. These childhood diseases are easily spread and can be fatal. That’s why most schools that I know of have a legal requirement that all children must be up to date on their vaccinations in order to attend.

But, as I told the doctor, I am not a rabbi or rabbanit and I certainly don’t have the level of knowledge to be able to categorically state that the majority of religious / Chassidic sects vaccinate their children.

Any of my JewCrew have something to contribute?

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  1. i don’t know about jews specifically, but I know there is a growing anti-vaccination movement among people who think that it causes autism, which I think is somewhat misplaced- I mean i understand not having tons of unnecessary vaccinations but things like mumps and measles can be fatal, and something like less than 1% of kids get autism but 2% of kids who get measles die from it. So I can think of several possibilities:

    1. The jews who are not vaccinating their kids are the MO highly educated very liberal types who are buying into this anti-vaccination movement

    2. Very religious people trust the government less so are less likely to vaccinate their kids

    3. social isolation of jews- if they only come in contact with other jews then that’s why only jewish kids are getting sick from it.

  2. Rebecca says:

    …but did he get to your real problem, your kidney infection. I once had a GP who was more interested in how my sex life was then the reason I was there, I left his practice. Now, do u drink lots of cranberry juice. I understand that it will help. Not that I am a dr.

    • hadassahsabo says:

      eventually he got around to my own medical issues. i find that being identified as a religious woman leads to a lot of off topic conversations with medical personnel…

  3. Frume Sarah says:

    Halacha is pretty clear about this. Choshen Mishpat covers this though I cannot cite on one foot!

    I am the parent of an autistic child and I would never withhold immunizations from any of our kids. Our son showed signs of being “unique” from the moment he was brought forth into this world.

    To not immunize put one’s own child and other children at risk.

  4. Don’t know about there, but in charedi communities here it’s common not to vaccinate. There have been several outbreaks of pertussis and more. The problem is that the illness can then be caught by newborns and those who can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons.

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