Religious Doctrine and Attitudes Toward Vaccination in Jewish Law

Nicole L. Muravsky, Grace M. Betesh, Rozalina G. McCoy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Individual and herd immunity against communicable diseases requires high rates of timely and complete vaccination, particularly in closely knit communities, densely populated areas, and places with high influx of potentially infected individuals. Recent outbreaks of COVID-19 and, previously, measles in religious Jewish communities of New York, as well as the rise of vaccine hesitancy in faith communities, call for the examination of Jewish attitudes toward vaccination. In this article, we examine religious doctrine and guidance on vaccination in Orthodox (including Modern Orthodox, Chabad-Lubavich, and Ultra-Orthodox), Conservative, and Reform denominations of Judaism and apply these principles to vaccinations against measles, human papillomavirus (HPV), and COVID-19. We found that the leaders and scholars in these three major denominations of Judaism are uniform in their strong support, often to the point of mandate, for the principles of vaccination. Support for vaccination is deeply rooted in the Torah, Jewish law, and contemporary rulings of poskim (Jewish legal scholars). These principles are applied by each denomination in strong support of measles and COVID-19 vaccination, though there is less certainty in their support of vaccination against HPV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Religion and Health
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Human papillomavirus
  • Judaism
  • Measles
  • Public health
  • Religion
  • Vaccination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Religious studies

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