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Detroit Rabbis Help Set Up Clinics To Vaccinate Thousands Against Measles

Health officials in Detroit have been working with local rabbis to vaccinate the Orthodox Jewish community after a man traveling from Brooklyn unknowingly infected 39 people with measles, The Washington Post reported.

After the man tested positive for measles last month, with his strain of the disease matching that of New York City’s outbreak, health officials recorded rabbi-approval voice messages that went out to thousands in the local ultra-Orthodox community. It shared information on the disease and location of vaccination clinics, according to the Post.

The Council of Orthodox Rabbis of Greater Detroit issued a statement urging the community to get vaccinated, citing Jewish law and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

It read: “In order to protect and safeguard each and every individual within the larger community, every individual, family and institution must take the necessary precautions against anyone who chooses not to be vaccinated.”

Members of the Detroit-area Hatzalah, the community’s emergency medical response group, also visited homes to test people for measles.

With help from Hatzalah and rabbinical leaders, the health department set up three clinics at a synagogue. More than 2,100 people have been vaccinated as of early this month, the Post reported. Local officials said not many were refusing the vaccine. In New York, by contrast, some ultra-Orthodox parents are defying their rabbis and not immunizing their children, mainly due to myths and misinformation about the supposed risks of vaccnation. The outbreak in New York is expected to get worse following the celebration of Passover.

According to the Post, there are 555 measles cases in 20 states. There have been 329 cases in New York since October.

Alyssa Fisher is a writer at the Forward. Email her at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter at @alyssalfisher

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