Anti-vaccination activists of Brooklyn were confronted by their own community members on Tuesday night while hosting a symposium at the Ateres Chaya Hall in Borough Park. The event hosted a group called United Jewish Community Council and other big shots of the anti-vax community, like YouTuber Del Bigtree.
Bigtree, while speaking to the reporters before entering the venue, went on a rant about how a considerable increase in autoimmune diseases, neurological disorders and an overall decline in public health call for questioning the existing medical establishment.
However, several members of the local community showed up to convince the attendees otherwise. Ben Rivlin from Midwood brought a handmade sign saying, “VACCINATION IS IMPORTANT! STOP THE PROPAGANDA!” while Anna Barkovski showed up with pamphlets written by Orthodox nurses negating some of the common myths around vaccination.
Despite the current measles outbreak going over seven months now, a small segment of the ultra-Orthodox community have been spreading the anti-vaccination propaganda by whatever means available – cold calls, WhatsApp forwards, hotlines, fliers and so on, so much so that the NYC Health Commission Oxiris Barbot had to take to Twitter to protest.
“To hold an anti-vaccination rally in the middle of an outbreak is beyond irresponsible, it is downright dangerous,” he wrote.
Another spokesperson of the Orthodox Jewish community, Rabbi Hillel Handler, spoke at a different symposium in Monsey. There he called the focus on measles as a “distraction” caused by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
However, the reality, it seems, is quite starkly opposite.
This the outbreak is the worst in the entire country since 1992, and a majority of it has occurred within the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. As per records, of all the hospitalized cases, around 73% of infections occurred among completely unvaccinated people.