The crystal structure of a measles virus. The three confirmed cases are the first reported in 20 years in Alachua county.
USA: The Hare Krishna Student Center, best known for running the University of Florida’s popular “Krishna Lunch program” for the past 36 years, is working with university officials and the Alachua County Health Department to contain an outbreak of measles in the area. Three known cases of the disease have been reported so far.
Reports earlier last week hinted at a possible connection between the outbreak and Krishna Lunch, but as more information became available Kalakantha Dasa, director of the Krishna Student Center, believes that the confusion may have arisen from the fact that all three cases involve young people who have ties to the Krishna community in Alachua.
“As a part of the UF community, we are, of course, concerned,” Kalakantha said. “We have been in touch with the health department and are doing our part to make sure that students and staff with whom we interact are safe.”
Additional misinformation led some to believe that the program had been forced to shut down. In reality, however, Krishna Lunch served its last meal of the semester on April 25, before the first case was reported. Every year, the program goes on hiatus for a few weeks at the end of the spring semester and resumes service again when summer classes begin.
Likewise, says Kalakantha, there is no truth to the idea that Hare Krishna devotees—who belong to a monotheistic denomination within the Hindu tradition—object to being vaccinated. The decision to be vaccinated is left entirely up to individuals or, in the case of minors, to the parents. There is no doctrinal or philosophical objection to vaccination in the Krishna religion.
“There are nearly one thousand Hare Krishna devotees who live and work in this county,” Kalakantha said, “They are individuals who make individual decisions. Most choose to get vaccinated. Some do not. We respect their right to make that choice, but it really has nothing to do with religion.”
Although they were originally planning to resume operations on May 16, after consulting with the health department, the Krishna Lunch staff has decided to wait until May 23 to begin serving out again. Kalakantha says that the staff will use that time to review their health and safety standards.
“At Krishna Lunch, our priority is the safety and well-being of the UF community,” Kalakantha said, “If that means taking an extra week to be absolutely certain that we’re doing all we can to help, it’s the right thing to do.”
For more information about the Krishna Lunch program, please visit: