letters to the editor

Vaccines Have Science Behind Them

Dear Mr. Gordon,

It is truly sad when the editor of a prominent Orthodox newspaper aligns himself with the anti-vaxx movement (or as I like to call them, the pro-disease cult). It is perfectly acceptable to have questions about vaccines, as you would likely have questions about any medical procedure. The problem arises when those questions have been answered time and time again, yet one refuses to accept those answers as fact and chooses to listen to the likes of J.B. Handley rather than actual vaccine scientists.

Ah, Mr. Handley. The man who says vaccines cause autism. This should be reason alone for you to completely discredit anything he says. (See Jain A., Marshall J., Buikema A., Bancroft T., Kelly JP., Newschaffer C.J. Autism Occurrence by MMR Vaccine Status Among US Children With Older Siblings With and Without Autism. JAMA. 2015; 313(15):1534–1540. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.3077.)

I have read posts online by anti-vaxx people who blame parents for their child’s autism and claim that it would be better for an infant or child to risk dying or becoming seriously ill from a vaccine-preventable disease than to become autistic. Do you understand why that would make people irate?

The risk of anaphylactic shock following the MMR vaccine is about 1.53/million, or .000000153 (Bohlke K., Davis R.L., Marcy S.M., Braun M.M., DeStefano F., Black S.B., Mullooly J.P., Thompson R.S., Vaccine Safety Datalink Team. Risk of Anaphylaxis After Vaccination of Children and Adolescents. Pediatrics. 2003 Oct; 112(4):815-20), while the death rate for reported measles cases during the most recent U.S. outbreak was about 2/1000, or .002. As low as that may sound, it is still much, much higher than the risk of an adverse reaction to a vaccine.

For years, Mr. Handley’s organization, Generation Rescue, claimed that autism rates were skyrocketing due to the presence of thimerosal in some vaccines. When thimerosal was removed from vaccines and autism rates did not drop, Mr. Handley moved the goalposts and claimed autism was a result whole host of things, from heavy metals in the air, to “maternal toxic load” (whatever that means), to antibiotics.

Chelation, by the way, can be dangerous for those who are not actually poisoned by heavy metals, yet that didn’t stop Generation Rescue from advertising it on their website back in the day as an autism “cure.”

If you have additional questions, an excellent resource for information is https://www.verywellfamily.com . This site goes through the 50 most common anti-vaxx myths and debunks them one at a time. Oh, and they also provide citations for their claims, unlike Mr. Handley in his article.

One final note. I understand that as a publisher that you want to present both sides of an issue. However, promoting anti-vaxx views in a mainstream paper will have dangerous consequences if an outbreak occurs because of parents falling for Mr. Handley’s quackery. Vaccines are not a matter of opinion; they are a matter of evidence and facts. Just as you would not debate whether the earth is round, there should be no debate whether vaccines are safe and effective. The science is clear.


Penina Gourdji

Appalled Reader

Dear Editor,

I read with dismay the appalling “letter” from vaccine science denier J. B. Handley, and I can no longer purchase or read the 5 Towns Jewish Times in good conscience. Vaccines save the lives of the immunized and those who cannot be vaccinated because they are immuno-compromised. There is no valid scientific evidence to the contrary.

Nonsensical, anti-scientific blather like this is dangerous, and the opposite of “v’chai bahem.” Deaths can, have, and will result over this venal foolishness, and those losses will be on your heads. Shame on your paper, and everyone who is willing to make others suffer because they are too selfish to follow medical science. What a chillul Hashem, and what a horrific waste.

M. Schick

There Is A Medical Dilemma

Dear Editor,

We are writing to express our gratitude for the balanced coverage of the vaccine debate in your recent editorial (“From The Editor: Medical Dilemmas,” November 30). Because of the vitriol increasingly directed at non-vaccinating parents, we felt it would be prudent to express our support anonymously.

In his response to your editorial (“No ‘Medical Dilemma’ on Vaccines,” December 3), Rabbi Aaron E. Glatt, MD, expresses the prevailing view of unvaccinated children and their parents as rodfim and rotzchim who stand in ignorant defiance of the overwhelming consensus in both the medical and rabbinic communities. Everyone agrees, the argument goes, “there is no medical dilemma…vaccination is the only way to control these preventable fatal diseases.” The logical conclusion of this argument is that schools should expel unvaccinated children.

However, arguments from authority work best when the authority is beyond reproach. The medical establishment isn’t. Consider:

  • Medical errors are the third-leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer. A recent Johns Hopkins study estimates that more than 250,000 people in the U.S. die every year from medical errors. Other reports place the estimate as high as 440,000 deaths.
  • Under the influence of perverse financial incentives, the pharmaceutical industry often mischaracterizes the safety and efficacy of its products, forcing the chronically resource-constrained FDA to recall one drug after another.
  • American Vaccine Courts have paid $3.9 billion in damages to thousands of vaccine-injured children, since the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 eliminated financial liability for vaccine makers.
  • Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN) teamed up with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to take on the U.S. government by filing suit against the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for vaccine safety violations — and they won. It turns out the federal agency has been neglecting their vaccine safety obligations for over 30 years.
  • The 2011 Supreme Court decision in Bruesewitz v. Wyeth characterized vaccines as “unavoidably unsafe.”
  • In a video deposition of Dr. Stanley Plotkin, the “G-d of Vaccines” describes which vaccines were produced using “chopped up” fetal organs.

Yet, Dr. Glatt assures us that we must trust the system. We say the system must earn our trust.

Informed consent is a cornerstone of our medical system. Parents and patients have a right to know the risks associated with any medical procedure. They have a right to know about the ingredients in any food or drug and about the possible conflicts of interest that may align the establishment’s consensus with the pharmaceutical industry’s financial goals. Until we satisfy these basic standards of informed consent, no doctor or rabbi should shame health-conscious parents for protecting their children.

Thank you again for your coverage of this issue, and may you continue to serve our community for many years to come.

Rachel J.

Concerned Five Towns Father

Dear Editor,

Thank you for your fair, open-minded reporting. It seems that there is uneven reporting on this issue. It seems that the frum community has been polarized on this subject. Where is the ahavat chinam? All we see are these relentless attacks on the people who exercise their constitutional right for informed consent. When was the last time you were given a vaccine insert at your pediatrician’s office? It is a very important subject that requires much discussion and an open mind.

Nobody denies the effectiveness of some vaccines—the smallpox vaccine in particular eradicated the disease. Effectiveness of that particular vaccine has left people yearning for the elixir of life. Nothing scares people more than the idea of dying, to the point that we will blindly trust. We have gotten so used to trusting government institutions that are meant to protect us that we don’t even look that numerous times the directors and other officials in CDC leave the post only to take lucrative positions in Merck or other pharmaceutical companies. We don’t investigate that all the research that the universities, CDC, and FDA conduct are sponsored by the same companies. Do you actually expect them to bite the hand that feeds them? We trust our doctors who are sworn to “first, do no harm” that we don’t even question them. We don’t realize that they themselves are ill-informed or biased. Unfortunately, most of them are blinded and have taken everything that they learned in medical school as gospel. There are some exceptions who open their eyes and see both sides of the argument, but those are few and far in between.

Vaccines are the only product produced by the pharmaceutical companies that rarely, if ever, go through proper double-blind randomized studies. When they do, they are compared to other vaccines instead of saline placebo, or sometimes just the adjuvant, which, in most cases, is the problem, and not the vaccine itself. There is even major research from a world-renowned rheumatologist from Israel, Dr. Shoenfeld, about adjuvant-induced autoimmune syndrome.

This year vaccine production stands to be a $49 billion industry, with a very influential lobby. They account for a large portion of advertising revenue on all the news stations. When was the last time you turned on a TV to CNN, FOX News, or MSNBC without getting bombarded with an ad for a cure to a disease you did not even know you had—a practice that is forbidden in Europe for prescription medication. To add insult to injury, they can’t even be sued for vaccine damage, which is something our litigious American society accepted under the threat of them stopping to produce vaccines, since they were going broke from lawsuits in the 1980s. If you want to get compensated for a vaccine injury you must file a suit in a special administrative court, which compensates through a special excise tax that is charged every time a vaccine is administered. I am not saying to throw the baby out with the bath water, but you judge if the whole thing adds up.

Some of the vaccines are not even preventing the spread of the disease; they are just dealing with the symptoms. Polio, whooping cough, and other vaccines only deal with the symptoms from the virus but not the spread of the virus to others.

There is so much to write on this subject, but besides all the health aspects, learn what we are injecting into our bodies: aborted fetal lung cells and African green monkey kidney cells, to name some. These are ingredients that you would not be able to consume due to kashrus issues, yet we inject them directly into our blood stream.

A big yasher koach, Larry!

Concerned Five Towns Father



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