letters to the editor


Questions About Vaccines

Dear Editor,

Larry, your article (“From The Editor: Medical Dilemmas,” November 30) was presented fairly and factually. In 1986, the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act was created to provide a federal no-fault system for compensating vaccine-related injuries. It permanently disallowed lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers and pediatricians, protecting them indefinitely.

During the law’s two-decade history, two out of three individuals applying for federal vaccine injury compensation have been turned away empty-handed.

Today, nearly 5,000 vaccine injury claims are sitting in limbo because they represent children who suffered brain and immune system dysfunction after vaccination but have been diagnosed with regressive autism, which is not recognized by the program as a compensable event.

Obtaining compensation has become a highly adversarial, time-consuming, traumatic, and expensive process for families of vaccine injured children, and far too many vaccine victims have been denied compensation. Meanwhile, vaccine makers and doctors have enjoyed liability protection and dozens of doses of new vaccines have been added to the childhood vaccine schedule.

Many children in our community have suffered from vaccine injuries including autism, SIDS, seizure disorders, and various autoimmune disorders right after receiving a round of vaccines and have been told by their doctors it is purely coincidence. Instead of their injuries being reported to Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) they are dismissed and only an estimated 1 percent of episodes are ever reported.

I encourage parents to read the vaccine ingredient lists and ask if there have been any long-term studies on safety: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/downloads/appendices/B/excipient-table-2.pdf.

MMR ingredient list: Chick embryo cell culture, WI-38 human diploid lung fibroblasts, vitamins, amino acids, fetalbovine serum, sucrose, glutamate, recombinant human albumin, neomycin, sorbitol, hydrolyzed gelatin, sodium phosphate, sodium chloride

D-TaP ingredient list: Fenton medium containing a bovine extract, modified Latham medium derived from bovine casein, formaldehyde, modified Stainer-Scholte liquid medium, glutaraldehyde, aluminum hydroxide, VERO cells, a continuous line of monkey kidney cells, Calf serum, lactalbumin hydrolysate, sodium chloride, polysorbate 80 (Tween 80), neomycin sulfate, polymyxin B

I vaccinated my kids but when my daughter handed me material to read on the subject I must say I was surprised and have not been able to get any intelligent answers from my doctors, just the usual dismissive conjecture and “drug companies know best” dogma. By the way, when I was a kid it was common to get the measles — everyone got it. There was even a hilarious Brady Bunch episode about it. Google it, it’s a real riot!

Be careful out there,

Medical Dilemmas

Dear Editor,

Larry, thanks for the eye-opening article (“From The Editor: Medical Dilemmas,” November 30). I like to research and ask questions. We should be allowed to ask questions and get answers, but the climate today is to criticize instead of educate regarding vaccination safety and side effects. After vaccinating my older children I personally spoke with my pediatrician who stated that the rise in autoimmune conditions in children, among other issues, may likely be from vaccines and that he advises his grandchildren not to vaccinate, or to space out the vaccines. Unfortunately, he is afraid to go on record publicly but this is a physician within our community. I encourage your readers to read How to End the Autism Epidemic by JB Handley. Thank you for mentioning this insightful work.

Adam G.

Irresponsible Article

Dear Editor,

If a physician insists that a dangerously ill person must eat on Yom Kippur, Jewish law requires the patient to eat. The patient’s personal desire to fast carries no weight. And this halachah applies even if the patient’s rabbinic authority advises him to fast; the rabbi’s view has no standing when measured against the doctor’s professional assessment.

With this in mind, I must call Larry Gordon to task for his irresponsible defense of the anti-vaccination movement (“From The Editor: Medical Dilemmas,” November 30). Rather than using his influential platform to encourage vacillating parents to vaccinate their children, Gordon presents the issue as one with two legitimate sides. And to buttress his argument, Gordon invokes two leading rabbanim, Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky and Rabbi Malkiel Kotler, who are anti-vaxxers.

The medical community (except for a few outliers) is unified in its view that vaccinations are essential in protecting our kids from dreaded diseases such as the measles. Particularly vulnerable are those who cannot be vaccinated, either because their immune systems are compromised or because they are too young. When a parent allows a child to go unvaccinated, that child may expose his friends to crippling or fatal diseases. With all due respect, Rabbis Kamenetsky and Kotler, you are absolutely wrong, and your position poses grave danger! I ask you to ponder the harm you are doing and to publicly recant your irresponsible stance.

One more thing, Larry. In support of the anti-vaxxers, you write that you listened to a radio program called Coast to Coast AM, featuring JB Handley. Handley’s claim to fame is the discredited theory that vaccines are causally related to our generation’s uptick in autism. What is Coast to Coast AM? It specializes in conspiracy theories. The show also commonly features guests who describe paranormal experiences. The program is truly a perfect fit for Handley’s drivel and the anti-vaccination viewpoint. But that viewpoint is not legitimate and has no place in a mainstream newspaper.

Avi Goldstein
Far Rockaway

One Size Does Not Fit All

Dear Editor,

I want to thank you for providing a rational voice regarding vaccinations in the sea of madness (“From The Editor: Medical Dilemmas,” November 30).

While we support safe vaccination, we know that they are not a panacea.

There are people who experience harm from vaccines. Researchers are finding some obvious and some more subtle repercussions. Science is evolving. Have we swung the pendulum too far and reached the point of diminishing returns, or perhaps far surpassed it, with the current vaccine schedule?

We see an increasing percentage of children who may have not had to go through an infection but who have broken immune systems. There is a staggering rise in autoimmune disease, asthma, anaphylactic allergies, childhood leukemia, r’l. Dr. Yehuda Shoenfeld, an immunologist who heads the Zabludowicz Center for Autoimmune Disease, discusses this in his many publications. Are we contributing to the epidemic of immunocompromised children, as well as other challenges children are facing? How do we extract ourselves from the cycle of disease?

The systems of the body are interconnected in ways we couldn’t have imagined possible even 30 years ago. The lymph system of the brain was discovered just four years ago. Scientists are now discovering its role in neurodegenerative disease.

While most doctors adhere to CDC guidelines, there is a large group of physicians, neurosurgeons, immunologists, and scientists who, at personal risk to leaving the status quo, object to simply following the CDC schedule.

In our community, bickering and downright hatred have created extremism that is bound to backfire when people finally realize it’s not black-and-white, but they are left without choice. We are dealing with the unique combination of industry and government mandates. With the community pushing for ever-stricter mandates, I fear that in this zealotry we are locking our children into a system where no risk factors are accounted for. Right now it is already extreme, where you either opt in or opt out of all vaccination with an exemption. There is no screening and with more and more vaccines being mandated, it comes at a price to many children.

Medical procedures must always be balanced with lifestyle choices. It is inhumane to force those who are vulnerable to sacrifice their health in order to contribute to what society views as herd protection from disease, when it is at best only protection from specific infectious disease.

People who dissent from the establishment, even after experiencing personal or familial injury, are quickly labeled. Humiliation and ostracization are the tools of choice used to force people into compliance.

What has become of our community when we cannot have a rational conversation about a procedure that has pros and cons? How can we continue to have one-size-fits-all when the schedule is becoming larger and larger? Each vaccine’s cost/benefit ratio has to be weighed for each child. We do not believe in child sacrifice. Not even for “the greater good.”


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,” Part 1, Part 2), 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 I.

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 the 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

Two Sides

Dear Editor,

I am writing this letter to show my heartfelt and genuine appreciation to you for writing an excellent article titled “Medical Dilemmas.” Your article was truly a breath of fresh air and honest reporting. You are correct—this is certainly not a one-sided issue, and the issues surrounding the current vaccine program deserve an honest look. All we see in the news recently, especially in the Jewish press, are one-sided articles making the current measles outbreak seem like the worst catastrophe of our time and denigrating anyone who questions vaccines or who dares make the difficult decision not to vaccinate their children as dangerous and selfish. This, however, could not be further from the truth.

I highly encourage any parent who wants to learn more about vaccines and understand the most up-to-date science to read the excellent book that you reference in your article, How to End the Autism Epidemic by J.B. Handley. This book is very scientific, educational, and sophisticated, and if nothing else, it will help you be more tolerant and understanding of people who have made different decisions than you, something that is desperately needed in our communities.

Most parents, certainly the ones I know, who choose not to vaccinate their children could more appropriately be called “ex-vaxxers,” not “anti-vaxxers,” as they at one point were just like you, and carefully followed their pediatrician’s advice regarding vaccinations. Sadly, they saw their children suffer serious side effects and sometimes permanent disabilities as a result of vaccination. After hundreds and hundreds of hours of research, they could no longer in good conscience vaccinate their children. Shouldn’t these parents be treated with respect and compassion and not be shamed, humiliated, and persecuted? Additionally, there is so much fear surrounding an unvaccinated person when they are not inherently diseased and the chances that they will transmit a disease to you or your children are infinitesimally small.

Maybe you don’t know that that over $4 billion has been paid out to families who have suffered from vaccine injury since 1986, and that it is extremely difficult to be awarded a settlement? In 1986, Congress passed The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act that states that “No vaccine manufacturer shall be liable in a civil action for damages arising from a vaccine-related injury or death.” It’s no surprise that in the absence of liability, the vaccine program has grown tremendously. In 1983, a child following the CDC’s recommended schedule would have received ten vaccines by age five, and, currently, a child following the CDC’s recommended schedule will receive 38, nearly quadruple. In a time when so many children have food allergies and environmental allergies, isn’t it at least plausible that some more sensitive children may react badly to vaccines and cannot tolerate a certain vaccine or the large number that are on the current schedule? Just like any other medical intervention, vaccines carry risks and potential serious side effects and I can confidently say that they are not the panacea that everyone is making them out to be.

A Five Towns / Far Rockaway Parent

From the Editor: The column that started it all

Op-Ed from Dr. Aaron Glatt, Part 1, Part 2


  1. The science has not been done. Vaccine ingredients have not been tested for safety. Would you give your child medicine orally that has not been tested for safety? If not, why should parents be forced to have their child INJECTED with ingredients that have not been tested for safety? Please take a few minutes to watch this video (about three minutes), and share it with others – including rabbis and school principals. Thank you, Larry, for allowing the other side to be heard!


  2. Dear Avi Goldstein

    There is nothing irresponsible about questioning what is about to go in to your child. What is irresponsible, is injecting something in to your and your baby’s holly bloodstream without looking in to what it is and blindly trusting in doctors. The only one we blindly trust is Hashem. I would argue, and most reasonable people would agree that forcing a dangerously ill person to eat on Yom Kipur is a different situation than forcing a perfectly healthy baby to take a shot full of tumah, weakened disease and toxicity. When was the last time you read an insert that a doctor must by law show you before administering a vaccine to you? You look in to Kashrus of every bite you take but if the doctor gives you a shot containing aborted baby lung cells and formaldehyde laced with aluminum you are ok with that. Now tell me where the irresponsibility lies!

    My wish and my bracha that on this Chanukah is for the light of the Chanukiah to shine in to everyone’s souls and open the eyes of our neshamah! I wish everyone could take the blinders off for just enough time for the voice of reason to shine in. Judaism is not a despotic tyrannical institution. Hashem gave us the torah to be the light on to the other nations and ourselves. It seems that lately all some of us are doing is trying to dim the light. the only Emet in this world is Hashem – don’t misguidedly put your bitachon somewhere else!

  3. Interview with Oregon pediatrician Dr. Paul Thomas. He has three groups of patients: Those who follow the CDC vaccine schedule, those who get no vaccines, and those who follow his alternative schedule. Listen to what he has to say about these three groups in relation to autism, and hear other interesting information that he shares about the topic of vaccines.



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