Vaccine Developer Urges Orthodox Jews to Vaccinate

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Dr. Samuel Katz was honored this year, the 50th anniversary of his developing the measles vaccine. (photo credit: courtesy of Samuel Katz)

A doctor who developed the measles vaccine recently urged members of ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities to vaccinate their children, noting that those communities who refused the 50-year-old vaccine were linked to a third of US measles cases last year.

The Times of Israel reports that Dr. Samuel Katz, the last surviving member of the team of researchers that developed the measles vaccine 50 years ago, believes it is “ludicrous” that parents do not vaccinate their children against measles.

The Center for Disease Control announced on December 5 that there were a total of 175 cases of measles in the United States in 2013, tripling of the annual average.

Fifty-eight of those reported cases were among Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn’s Boro Park and Williamsburg neighborhoods. It was the largest outbreak of measles in the US since 1996. The CDC reported that the cause of the outbreak last spring in Hasidic Brooklyn was an unvaccinated 17-year-old who was infected with the disease after a trip to England.

Among the Brooklyn cases, 21 percent were among children too young to have the MMR vaccine. Twenty-eight cases in Boro Park were members of three extended families who had refused to vaccinate their children.

Every day, 430 children die of measles worldwide. There were an estimated 158,000 measles deaths in 2011.

Dr. Katz Katz was the 2003 winner of the Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal awarded by the Sabin Vaccine Institute for his contributions to vaccine discoveries during his career, and is currently the Chairman Emeritus of Pediatrics at Duke University.

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