Vaccination Is Not an Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Hangup: Stop Blaming One Community for the Measles Outbreak
In this year’s U.S. measles outbreak, parts of Brooklyn and Rockland County have experienced two-thirds of the reported 704 infections. The media generally blame an alleged low vaccination rate in these areas, each with a large percentage of ultra-Orthodox Jews.
Public health experts corroborate this message. Dr. Nancy Messonnier of the Centers for Disease Control testified to Congress: “I do believe that…most cases that we’re seeing are in unvaccinated communities.” Dr. Anthony Fauci, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, declared:
“Coverage in a given community, when it falls below a certain critical level, you get the kinds of outbreaks that we’re seeing, particularly in places like New York City and the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn…. his is a relatively closed community, a Hasidic Jewish community in that area — that are not vaccinating their children at a rate that would provide that broad umbrella of protection that we call herd immunity…When you drop down to the 80s or even the 70s [emphasis added] or even lower, where it is now in that community, that’s exactly the explanation of why we’re seeing the outbreaks that we’re seeing.”
However, the New York State Health Department reports the average vaccination rate for measles among the nearly 200 Jewish K-12 schools in Brooklyn — mainly in Borough Park and Williamsburg — is 96%, six percentage points higher than the statewide average among private schools. In contrast, six other New York counties have a vaccination rate below 50%.