Statement on Vaccinations from the OU and Rabbinical Council of America



Orthodox Jewish parents, like responsible parents across the United States, overwhelmingly vaccinate their children against measles, mumps, rubella, polio and the other childhood diseases for which inoculations are now almost miraculously commonplace. As in many communities, a small minority of parents chooses not to do so. The ongoing measles outbreak demonstrates how this could bear very serious consequences, not only for their own children but others’ too, especially those medically unable to be vaccinated. The Orthodox Union (OU) and the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) strongly urge all parents to vaccinate their healthy children on the timetable recommended by their pediatrician.

Parents who choose to not vaccinate often cite a medical study that purported to link autism and the MMR vaccine. The study was discovered to be fraudulent and was withdrawn; its lead author was found to have acted “dishonestly and irresponsibly,” and his license to practice medicine in Britain was revoked.

Judaism places the highest value on preserving human life. It is well known that those facing even a potential life or death situation are instructed to set aside the Sabbath and other key tenets of halachic (Jewish law) observance until the emergency has passed. Prayers for good health and for the complete and perfect healing of the ill are an ages-old aspect of Jewish tradition. But prayers must go hand-in-hand with availing oneself of medical science, including vaccination.

There are halachic obligations to care for one’s own health as well as to take measures to prevent harm and illness to others, and Jewish law defers to the consensus of medical experts in determining and prescribing appropriate medical responses to illness and prevention. Therefore, the consensus of major poskim (halachic decisors) supports the vaccination of children to protect them from disease, to eradicate illness from the larger community through so-called herd immunity, and thus to protect others who may be vulnerable. The vaccination of children who can medically be vaccinated is absolutely the only responsible course of action.

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  1. I am so delighted to see this. Why our supposedly “AM CHACHAM” has so many who believe in all kinds of alternative health quackery is beyond me, but not vaccinating children is even way worse than that. I am so happy to see something official coming out definitively against those who fail to vaccinate.

  2. How many deaths from Measles in the US in the last 10 years??

    O – yes that’s correct Zero! The last death from this sickness was in 2003! (& its not because no one is getting it, its because our healthcare system is a lot better than in ancient times.)

    So why fuss over this?

  3. Unfortunately, something that appears obvious to all is not as there is a significant minority of people in our community who see things differently.

  4. there are poskim that tell you not to vaccinate! the statement above echos the propaganda in the media. if everyone would stop believing everything the “experts” read “media” “big pharma” say as fact and just take a look at the medical literature and even the CDC’s own website you will find that it is really not so simple. matzav will probably not print this cuz they are so one sided and don’t print most of the comments that are on the other side!

  5. To Comment #3. from “Ha Ha,” Comment #4. from “Re:Puzzled,” Comment #5. from “wake up,” and Comment #6. from “Chaim,” you all posted very excellent remarks that are very well put.

  6. To Comment #4. from “Re:Puzzled”: Could you please post here the names of the Poskim whom you know who say not to vaccinate. It would obviously be a great Toeles L’Rabim.


  7. As yidden, we never hesitated to do things differently then the rest of the world. When it comes to clear yiddishkeit issues, we would never follow the health department’s recommendations- such as their stand on bris milah. So why are we swallowing their propaganda blindly in regards to vaccines?! I cringe when I hear of so many yiddishe families battling health issues that are so obviously vaccine-related. We can help ourselves! Get the facts! Do your research! And then make your decision.

  8. To Comment #11. from “Estee”: Very excellent statement!! Our whole formation of becoming the Am Yisroel came when our great-great-grandfather, Avroham Avinu, “dared” to staunchly oppose the “official” teachings of the government of his time (and which were being promoted by his own father) that he well knew were outright lies.