The Singer family has had to change their lives because of a group of people they’ve never met.
The Singers live in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Rockland County, New York, where a measles outbreak continues to grow, health officials say, because many parents refuse to vaccinate their children.
They would love to vaccinate their daughter, Malky, but at 2 months old, she’s too young.
So for another four months, until Malky is old enough to get the vaccine, the Singers are keeping her away from public places.
That means if her three older siblings need new shoes, someone has to stay home with Malky. If the Singers want to go on a family outing to the mall, someone has to stay home with Malky. If they want to go to a restaurant for dinner, someone has to stay home with Malky.
“We’ve had to change the way we live because of a small minority of people,” said Malky’s father, Shimon Singer. “It’s very inconvenient.”
But more than inconvenient, he says, it’s emotionally difficult. They fear that despite their best efforts, Malky could still catch the virus.
“It makes you worried all the time,” said Singer, who lives in Monsey.
He knows how horrible measles can be. His nephew recently caught measles and had to be hospitalized.
He said a friend of his wife’s was vaccinated as a child but also recently caught the virus. She had a high fever for weeks and, at one point, couldn’t see. He said she described having measles as “the worst thing that had ever happened to me” and said the pain of childbirth paled in comparison.
“She said, ‘It was like every part of my body felt on fire. It was like somebody was inside my body with a bulldozer, destroying organ by organ,’ ” Singer said.
He doesn’t want that to happen to his baby.
“It’s a very tremendous concern for us,” Singer said. “Is my baby safe? Is she going to get sick? Will she get sick tomorrow? Will she get sick next week?”