Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Vaccination is unquestionably a parental responsiblity: Review article by Rav Bleich

 Rabbi  J. David Bleich Survey of Recent Halakhic Periodical Liturature  Tradition Summer 2015 p55

Childhood vaccinations are not accompanied by any significant danger. Despite widespread belief to the contrary, autism is not at all associated with M.M.R. inoculation. That misinformation gained currency and became widespread because of a spurious article based upon fraudulent research that appeared in a British medical journal. The principal author's malfeasance was subsequently exposed and his license to practice medicine was revoked. Possible connections between autism and M.M.R vaccine were rigorously investigated and in 2004, in a publication entitled "Immunization Safety Review: Vaccines and Autism," the Institute of Medicine reported that epidemiological evidence failed to establish a causal relationship. Other dangers attendant upon various forms of inoculation are infinitesimal.28 The dangers that do exist are well within the parameters of shomer peta'im as defined by Binyan Zion. For Shem Aryeh and Imrei Shefer they are far below the threshold level requiring even invocation of shomer peta'im. 

Even assuming a higher degree of danger, as earlier argued, a parent is nevertheless charged with assumption of a minimal danger on behalf of a child in order to ward off more serious danger, as evidenced by a father's obligation to teach his sons to swim. 

Nor can the principle of shomer peta'im be invoked to justify assumption of a recognized danger that can be readily averted. That is clearly the import of the statement of R. Moshe Feinstein, Iggerot Moshch, Even ha-Ezer, IV, no. 10, to the effect that, with the development of blood tests to determine whether prospective marriage partners are both carriers of the gene responsible for Tay-Sachs disease, one may no longer rely upon shomer peta'im in assuming the risk of that disease. For precisely the same reason, a danger posed by childhood disease tor which a vaccine is available may not be assumed on the plea of shomer peta'im. That is certainly the import of the statement attributed to the late R. Yosef Shalom Eliashiv to the effect that "failure to immunize would amount to ncgligence.” 29
Perfection of vaccines that immunize against disease results in a situation in which failure to vaccinate is tantamount to willfully exposing oneself to Zi1'liWI ptihim, Once divine providence has made a vaccine safely available, any misfortune resulting from failing to avail oneself of immunization is to be attributed to human negligence rather than to divine decree. Exposure to the disease without immunization is equivalent to exposure to the elements without protection. Allowing a child to be exposed to the ravages of communicable disease is no different from exposing the child to zinim pahim. Any resultant harm is not at the hands of Heaven but is derekh ikesh which the parent bears full responsibility. […]

Vaccination of one's children is unquestionably a parental responsibility." Education of parents in their halakhic responsibilities in light of the overwhelming benefits of vaccination and their resultant voluntary compliance would entirely obviate the quandary forced upon dedicated and well-meaning educators.

28 See the website tor the Center for Disease Control, See also, Alice Park, "How Safe Are Vaccines?" Time Magazine ,inc, June 2, 2008.
29 See Akiva Tatz, Dangerous Disease & Dangerous Therapy in Jewish Medical Ethics, (Southfield, Michigan, 2010), p. 48.

No comments :

Post a Comment

please use either your real name or a pseudonym.