The latest example of this short-sighted approach to righteousness is Rav Yitzchok Aderlstein's essay in support of Rav Shmuel Kamenetzky.
Rav Kamenetzky, as folks throughout the Jewish blogosphere already are aware, holds the incorrect opinion that vaccinations are not helpful and also possibly harmful. He shares this stolid opinion with his wife who is an open anti-vaccination public and therefore a menace to the public. In fact, one can surmise that she is the source of his opinion on the matter as vaccination is nowhere mentioned in the Talmud or Shulchan Aruch which means that Rav Kamenetzky knows nothing about it. He is naive, she is dangerous.
What I'm writing might seem harsh but I think it's necessary for two reasons. One is the source of the misinformation. Apologists for Rav Kamenetzky have pointed out that he is not offering a p'sak but rather just an opinion. People who wish to vaccinate their children aren't doing anything wrong by ignoring his statement. The problem is that for too many in the Chareidi community any statement by a "Gadol" is taken as halacha (as long as the person actually agrees with it, otherwise he'll tell you "that's not what he really meant") which means those kooks out there who already are hesitant about doing the right thing for their children will take this as legal support for their refusal. "Rav Kamenetzsky thinks so" will morph into "Rav Kamenetzsky says so which means it's Daas Torah not to vaccinate".
A second reason for the harshness is the far-reaching effect of this belief in vaccination non-efficacy. Andrew Wakefield, the doctor who published the fraudulent study on MMR in The Lancet is directly responsible for all harm and death caused by parents who didn't vaccinate their children based on his so-called advice. Not vaccinating one's children isn't simply an act of omission but one of commission. By refusing vaccines one exposes one's children to harmful and deadly diseases that might have tragic consequences and one brings those diseases into one's community which threatens harm to other children.
It's interesting to note that one of Rav Kamenetzky's stated reasons for not supporting vaccination is because many children don't get vaccinates and behold! They don't contract polio either. Rav Kamentzky is clearly unaware of herd immunity (again, not a surprise) in which people who are unvaccinated benefit from mass vaccination of the rest of the population which prevents the disease from entering the community. This is a parasitic relationship and the irony of a Chareidi "Gadol" advocating such a thing should not be lost on anyone.
Consider the following: one meets a "Gadol" who is world-famous for his erudition and acts of saintliness. In a quiet and candid moment he tells you that he knows that the world is really a flat disk and all the stuff about a spherical earth and heliocentric solar system is a bunch of apikorsus invented by atheist scientists to draw Jews away from Torah. Is he still a great "Gadol" or just a foolish man who happens to know a lot? And this is an opinion that causes no harm to anyone!
What's more, consider one of Rav Adlerstein's concluding points:
While I have never met a chosid who actually thought his rebbe infallible, the possibility of error looms even larger in the (old) Litvishe approach with which I am comfortable.Concerning the first half of the sentence one must ask: has Rav Adlerstein never met a real chosid or has he just never met an honest one? Concerning the second half one must ask: Is Rav Adlerstein unaware of the modern day use of the term Daas Torah to denote the infallibility of "the Gedolim" or is he also lying, just like Rav Kamenetzky's wife?
Vaccinate your children and ignore foolish PR bag men who think knowing the Talmud really well means covering up idiotic opinions.