Charedi leaders in Stamford Hill have urged religious Jews to get immunised against measles and for them not to send any of their children to school if one family member has it, after an outbreak in Israel found its way to Hackney.
Local health authority practitioners have been producing literature in Yiddish and Hebrew encouraging those not already inoculated to get a jab, amidst warnings from rabbis that those opposed to it are risking the lives of others.
It comes amid warning from nurses that families are still sending their other children to school even if a sibling has measles, instead urging all family members to get vaccinated or seek medical advice until they return to the classroom.
“People have to have responsibility to themselves and others,” said Rabbi Avroham Pinter, the principal of Yesodeh HaTorah Senior Girls’ School in Stamford Hill, who was responding after an 18-month old girl died from measles in Israel last week.
“There are some people who are opposed, but they must be mindful of the Halachic responsibility [to themselves and others] and remember that measles can be life-threatening for the vulnerable, such as the very young or very old.”
Pinter said he had written to all parents and added that the latest measles cases in Hackney were “only those with a connection with Israel,” where an outbreak that began earlier this year has now reached more than 1,000 cases. It is understood the outbreak has spread to “all” large Charedi communities around the world.
In London, the campaign to get Orthodox Jews inoculated was being led by Public Health England, with the London branch of emergency medical services charity Hatzola also taking out adverts in local newspapers.
A Hatzola spokeswoman said the charity was not urging religious Jews to get inoculated against their will, but that the advert was “an awareness notice… warning of the severity of complications that can arise for those infected by measles”.