How Orthodox Jewish Nurses Are Fighting 'Anti-Vaccination Propaganda' Targeting Their Community
For Blima Marcus and her fellow ultra-Orthodox Jewish nurses, a 40-page booklet about vaccines that’s been circulating in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg and Borough Park neighborhoods is Public Health Enemy No. 1. Called “The Vaccine Safety Handbook: A Handbook for Parents,” the magazine comes across as an official publication, cleanly designed and sporting extensive footnotes citing scientific studies. Published by Parents Educating and Advocating for Children’s Health, the booklet is commonly known as the “PEACH magazine” and has been passed among friends and relatives in ultra-Orthodox—also known as Haredi—communities. And cover to cover, it’s full of misinformation about vaccines. “When I got my hands on a copy...I realized this was a piece of anti-vaccination propaganda,” said Marcus, a nurse practitioner at Memorial Sloan Kettering and adjunct professor of nursing at Hunter College. Amid the largest measles outbreak in nearly 30 years, and a rise in vaccine hesitancy within the ultra-Orthodox community, Blima and other members of the Orthodox Jewish Nurses Association decided to do something about it. They have been compiling a book of their own to respond to PEACH’s assertions, which is slated for publication in the next few weeks.