Close up of doctor's hands vaccinating child

Council of Orthodox Rabbis of Greater Detroit considers vaccination a “Halachic obligation.”

By Keri Guten Cohen, Story Development Editor

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Oakland County Health Division (OCHD) announced confirmation of four additional measles cases in Oakland County late Thursday night. Three other cases under investigation were confirmed Friday, bringing the total cases to eight, which is considered an “outbreak.”  All the cases follow a confirmed case announced March 13 by the OCHD involving an  Israeli visitor who had stopped in New York before arriving here.

The JN reported in its March 21 issue that the man was going to homes door-to-door and to synagogues and stores in the heart of Detroit’s Orthodox Jewish community soliciting donations to fund a program that helps high school dropouts in Israel. (See list of locations of possible exposure below.)

Measles is a highly contagious, vaccine-preventable disease spread by direct person-to-person contact and through the air. The virus can live for up to two hours after an infected person leaves, Dr. Carl Lauter, a specialist in infectious diseases and allergy and immunology at William Beaumont Hospital, said in the previous JN story.

Symptoms typically present within seven to 14 days after exposure but can appear up to 21 days later and include a rash, high fever, cough, runny nose, red, watery eyes and small white lesions in the patient’s mouth.

“Under no circumstances should a person who thinks he or she may have the measles show up at the hospital or doctor’s office,” Lauter said Thursday night. “That person should call the health department for advice on how to be evaluated. Going to the hospital or doctor unannounced puts others at unnecessary risk.”

In a statement dated March 20 obtained by the JN, the  Council of Orthodox Rabbis of Greater Detroit (Vaad), the authoritative body of Detroit’s Orthodox community, said it “considers it a Halachic obligation for every member of our community to be properly and fully vaccinated according to the standards and schedules established by the medical community as outlined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Ignoring or undermining this policy of universal vaccination endangers the community and is Halachically wrong.

“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.

“It is therefore Halachically permitted for each individual institution to exclude unvaccinated people from school, day care, camps, etc., for the protection of the health of others. Only valid medical exemptions, granted by physicians who are wholly supportive of vaccinations, should be considered Halachically acceptable and taken into account on an individual basis.”

In an updated statement today, the Vaad said, “If you are experiencing any symptoms of the measles, as described by the Oakland County Health Division notice, you are Halachically required to STAY HOME and immediately contact your health care provider for further instructions. It is absolutely forbidden for anyone experiencing symptoms to go out (even to shul) and expose others and place them at risk.”

Vaccine Offered
After the first case was confirmed, the OCHD offered a vaccine clinic before Shabbat on Friday, March 15, at Young Israel of Oak Park (YIOP). Forty-three people, not all necessarily Jewish, were vaccinated that day.

Another clinic today at Young Israel of Oak Park resulted in more than 150 people being vaccinated, according to the OCHD.

The OCHD, responding to social media requests from the Jewish community, will hold another clinic from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday at YIOP.

OCHD also will host a special measles vaccination clinic from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at the South Oakland Health Center, 27725 Greenfield Road, Southfield. Only the measles vaccine will be available. The OCHD’s Nurse on Call phone line will be open during the same hours Saturday to answer questions (800-848-5533 or email

Unvaccinated individuals need to get vaccinated, according to the OCHD. If you are unsure whether you have been vaccinated or have had measles in the past, contact your healthcare provider.

High-risk individuals include those who are unvaccinated or unsure about vaccination status, pregnant women and those who are immune-compromised (have a weakened immune system due to illness and disease like diabetes or HIV, malnutrition and/or medications).

Hatzalah Detroit, a nonprofit first-responders organization that held a measles testing clinic Friday at its office in Oak Park, shared the Michigan Department of Health’s new guidelines in response to this outbreak:

  • Infants aged 6-12 months should receive one dose of the vaccine.
  • Children 12 months-age 4 should receive their second dose if it has been at least 28 days since their first dose.
  • Anyone else who cannot be certain of two doses of the MMR vaccine, and/or does not have a titer test proving immunity, MUST GET VACCINATED!
  • Many of the recent measles patients HAD been vaccinated but were vaccinated prior to 1989 and only received one dose. Those vaccinated prior to 1971 received a different vaccinate that is ineffective during an outbreak.
  • If you have already had regular measles you are protected. German measles (called Rubella) will NOT protect you.

Additional vaccines pose no risk. When in doubt, vaccinate. Michigan vaccine records can be accessed by visiting 

Exposures may have occurred at these locations and times:

March 14-19

  • Congregation B’nai Israel: 15400 W. 10 Mile, Oak Park
  • Ahavas Olam: 15620 W 10 Mile, Southfield
  • Yeshiva Gedolah of Greater Detroit: 24600 Greenfield, Oak Park
  • Kollel Institute of Greater Detroit: 15230 Lincoln, Oak Park

March 15-18

  • One Stop Kosher Food Market: 25155 Greenfield, Southfield

March 15

  • Young Israel of Oak Park: 15140 W. 10 Mile, Oak Park (1-6 p.m.)
  • Kroger: 23675 Greenfield, Southfield (noon-3 p.m.)

March 16

  • Huntington Woods Minyan: 14130 Balfour St., Oak Park (8:30 a.m.-2 p.m.)

March 17

  • Yeshivas Darchei Torah School: 21550 W. 12 Mile, Southfield (9 a.m.-3 p.m.)

March 18

  • Kroger: 19853 W. 12 Mile, Southfield (8-11 p.m.)
  • Berkley Medical Center: 1695 W. 12 Mile, Berkley (11:15 a.m.-3 p.m.)
  • Meijer: 28800 Telegraph, Southfield (1-4:30 p.m.)
  • Yeshivas Darchei Torah School: 21550 W. 12 Mile, Southfield (9 a.m. -3:30 p.m.)

March 20

  • Brede Inc.: 19000 Glendale Ave., Detroit (noon- 7:30 p.m.)

Potential exposures may have occurred at the following locations, times:

March 15

  • Beaumont Reference Lab: 3601 13 Mile, Royal Oak (10 a.m.-2 p.m.)
  • SKLD Bloomfield Hills: 2975 N. Adams, Bloomfield Hills (noon-3 p.m.)
  • Westborn Market: 27659 Woodward, Berkley (12:30-3:30 p.m.)
  • Jax Kar Wash: 27054 Woodward, Royal Oak (1-4 p.m.)

March 16

  • Beth Tefilo: 24225 Greenfield, Southfield (8-11 p.m.)

March 17

  • Beth Tefilo: 24225 Greenfield, Southfield (8-11 a.m.)
  • Lowe’s Home Improvement: 28650 Telegraph., Southfield (12:20-3:30 p.m.)
  • Lowe’s Home Improvement: 434 W. East 12 Mile, Madison Heights (3- 7:00 p.m.)
  • Home Depot: 660 W. 12 Mile, Madison Heights (4:30-7 p.m.)

March 18

  • Oakland County Circuit Court Building: 1200 N. Telegraph Rd., Bldg.12E, Pontiac (1:30-5 p.m.)
  • ABC Warehouse: 24725 Southfield Road, Southfield (3:30-7 p.m.)
  • Universal Plumbing Supply: 14511 W. 11 Mile, Southfield (4:40-7:30 p.m.)

March 19

  • Building at 211 W. Fort St., Detroit (10 a.m.-2 p.m.). This building includes Detroit Economic Club, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Passport Office and more.

March 20

  • Beaumont Reference Laboratory: 3601 13 Mile, Royal Oak (after 3 p.m.)
  • Providence Park Novi Medical Building: 26850 Providence Parkway, Novi (after 1 p.m.)

JN Contributing Writer Jennifer Lovy contributed to this story. 

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