[S]ome ultra-Orthodox believe that there is a connection between vaccines and autism, despite the fact that the CDC says there is none. Major Orthodox rabbis have called vaccines “hoaxes” and cast doubt on their efficacy, including three who sit on the rabinnical board that guides Agudath Israel of America, the leading Haredi umbrella group.
Vaccine skepticism has spread from those leaders to their followers.
“I’ve been practicing medicine and doing research on this topic for years now and I am saying scientifically the truth is known but being covered up,” Yosef, a physician assistant from Crown Heights who was raised in the Chabad movement, a branch of Hasidic Judaism, wrote in an email.
Yosef, 35, said that although he and two of his five children are vaccinated, he believes vaccines cause more harm than good.
“Side effects include death, autoimmune diseases, autism and many things in between,” he wrote. “I don’t think, I know. CDC knows. $4 billion paid to parents by our government since 1986 knows.”