SOUTHFIELD, Mich. — Health officials and local Jewish institutions are warning about an outbreak of measles in the Detroit area that has been linked to a person who was visiting from Israel.
Eighteen cases of the contagious disease have been confirmed in Oakland County since March 13.
Officials say people may have been exposed this month in Detroit and the suburbs of Oak Park, Southfield and Berkley in locations that include synagogues, Jewish schools, a kosher market and grocery stores, according to The Associated Press.
The Israeli had visited synagogues, businesses and yeshivas before the Purim holiday after arriving from New York, where there is a measles outbreak in some Orthodox Jewish communities.
By Friday, more than 200 people had been vaccinated at two clinics conducted by the Oakland County Health Division. Another clinic was set up Sunday at Young Israel of Oak Park. Hatzalah Detroit, an Oak Park-based nonprofit first-responders organization, set up a measles question-and-answer line at (248) 313-4952.
“All I can say is that as someone who has grandchildren too young to be immunized and a daughter who potentially would be much more dangerously affected by the measles than the general population, I’m horrified that this is even still an issue,” Lisa Shevin of Oak Park told the Jewish News. “I get that some people are concerned about the issue of parental choice, but there comes a time when the good of society as a whole needs to take precedence.”
Lisa Klein, a pediatrician with offices in Troy and Novi, said her cell and office phones are “exploding” with calls from concerned caregivers.
Michigan law requires children enrolled in public and private schools, licensed day care centers and preschools to be vaccinated unless a waiver is given based on medical or religious objections. Private schools can choose not to accept waivers.
A woman who answered the phone Friday morning at Yeshiva Darchei Torah in Oak Park said it is the school’s policy that all students need to be vaccinated. The same goes for Yeshiva Beth Yehudah in Southfield. Rabbis Yitzchok Grossbard, the school’s dean, and Shragie Myers, its executive director, said all admitted students must have their immunizations up to date to attend, barring any outstanding medical reason they could not be immunized, which must be documented and signed by a medical professional.
Farber Hebrew Day School issued a statement Friday that said, in part, that the school “has a clear policy requiring all its students to be fully vaccinated according to health department standards and timeline.”
Detroit Jewish News Contributing Writer Rochel Burstyn added to this report.