By Stacy Gittleman, Contributing Writer
Across Oak Park and Southfield and even into Huntington Woods, Orthodox families — especially those with babies — are changing their daily routines. This includes avoiding getting together for playdates or dropping babies off at a babysitter or daycare — even leaving them home while shopping for Passover.
The state’s health department says that the measles outbreak in Southeast Michigan is now up to 22 cases as of Wednesday, March 27, and that the first case has now been reported in Wayne County. Affected people range in age from 11 to 63 years old.
Nicole Vinsaw,of Oak Park who is due with her fourth child in May, said at least for the next few weeks, she is staying away from attending synagogue and will find alternative places to shop in Berkeley and Novi instead of One Stop, where the Israeli visitor who was carrying measles visited shortly before the Purim holiday.
Vinsaw said she did not attend any Megillah readings because she had a cold. In retrospect that may have been a lucky twist of fate because she learned that the Israeli visited the shuls she frequents like Ohr HaTorah and Chabad of Oak Park.
“I hope that this outbreak will make the anti-vaxxers realize that vaccinations are a good thing,” Vinsaw said. “But I fear that something horrible will have to happen first, such as the death of a child, for them to open their eyes.”
A source who wished to remain anonymous contacted the JN by phone with concerns about an Oak Park family she knows. The caller said parents of the family of eight or nine children do not vaccinate their children. Four of the children have contracted measles while two are recovering. She said she spoke to the father and is “flabbergasted” at his cavalier attitude saying that all his children will be just fine.
The source said that the children were students at Darchei Torah in Oak Park, but the school removed the children from their enrollment when the family refused to vaccinate them. Now this family is planning on starting a homeschooling Jewish school.
Lisa and Elliot Shervin of Oak Park are in their 60s, and their main concern is for their very young grandchildren who are babies and toddlers. Lisa said she is concerned for the babies who cannot have immunization rounds too close together. To play it safe, Elliot waited in line for 20 minutes to receive a measles vaccine on Sunday at the clinic at Young Israel of Oak Park. He had shopped at One Stop the week before.
“We are doing our best to stay away from public places and, unfortunately, that means avoiding synagogue, and for my grown daughters that is a lot because they have barely missed a week.”