As a neurologist whose patients return to see him year after year, Dr. Robert Brown Jr., of Mayo Clinic, hears about plenty besides strokes and aneurysms. His older patients pull up smartphone photos of grandkids and great-grandkids; his farmer patients talk of rough winters, rainy spells, fluctuations in the price of corn. While investigating memory loss and personality change, he hears about dogs, football games, vacations, and funerals.

But in November, someone he’d met in the clinic sent him a question he wasn’t expecting. The man was in Rockland County, N.Y., a leader in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. He was concerned about a measles outbreak there, and was wondering how to address parents’ hesitations about vaccines.

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