I have some close family and friends that are ‘non-vaxers’ or delay vaccinations. Over the past few years I have had many discussions with them regarding their decision not to vaccinate.
To my great surprise I learned that despite all my years of medical education and medical work experience they actually know much more about vaccines than I do. I may not agree with all of their decisions since that is the nature of a controversy, but I do know that these are rational people, law abiding citizens, who simply made different decisions regarding health choices for their family. They researched vaccine history and vaccine laws. They ask their pediatricians for the insert that comes along with the vaccine to help them make informed decisions. They study the many vaccine recalls over the years and read through the thousands of reports on VAERS stating adverse reactions caused by vaccines.
These are people who want to know why despite having such a messy history, vaccine companies – unlike any other drug company – are completely immune from lawsuits. These are people that demand to know why there isn’t even ONE case study on vaccines performed with a control group. These people have made their decision after thorough research and investigation. They are extremely passionate about their decision and rejecting them from our shuls and sending their kids away from our schools will not make them change their mind.
Since vaccines are categorized as preventative medicine, they believe that one should not inject healthy people with preventative medicine if there are risk factors involved. I am not promoting non-vaccination; I am simply explaining their school of thought.
I currently know of two families from Lakewood and one from Brooklyn that are making plans of moving away to other communities. Think of how hurt and bullied they must feel to be taking such an extreme step. Moving far from family, new schools for kids, further traveling to work. They are so passionate about not vaccinating, that they rather uproot their lives than the latter.
Was this our goal? Bully you till you conform, or suggest you leave because you’re not welcome in our schools and shuls? Is this the kind of people we are?
Once our kids will be in cleansed schools that contain a student body of 100% vaccinated children, have we truly guaranteed their safety from communicable viruses? Will they never be exposed to unvaccinated people in the train, bus, mall, airport, or local playground? Do we ask to see vaccine records from cleaning help that we bring into our homes? From the guests we invite to our Shabbos meals? Are we living by double standards?
The schools in Lakewood do not accept medical exempt forms anymore. So there are children with suppressed immune systems or previous adverse reactions from vaccines who cannot receive many of the vaccines and they are not welcome in our schools. The public schools accept exemption forms, the health department recognizes that vaccines are not compatible with everyone and yet we reject these children. Is our behavior logical?
My goal in this letter to Matzav.com is not to get into a pro/anti vaccine discussion. It is to give some perspective on the consequences of our approach regarding this controversy. The current tactic of ostracizing productive community member by bullying them into vaccination is NOT WORKING. It is causing more negativity and hard feelings than anything else. If the idea is to have them conform at all costs or leave our community then we are definitely succeeding.
We need to ask ourselves: What is our true goal? What truly keeps us safe?