The vaccination rate among Israeli children is among the highest and the country’s immunization baskets is among the broadest in the world, according to the Health Ministry.
It issued this information on Thursday to mark World Immunization Week, taking place April 27 to May 3, which is coordinated by the World Health Organization.
About 95 percent of babies and children are taken to well-baby clinics for their routine vaccinations, the ministry said. These include shots against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough plus hemophilus influenza B and polio (five together); measles, mumps and German measles plus chicken pox (four together); Prevnar against pneumococcus; hepatitis B; hepatitis A; and rotavirus.
Vaccinations are “one of the most important and efficient interventions to prevent disease and to promote a healthy population,” the ministry said.
Since 1994, for example, the vaccine to prevent hemophilus influenza B was included in the vaccination schedule for children.
As a result, meningitis and other complications in this age group has become extremely rare.
Since Prevnar shots were introduced in 2009, pneumococcal meningitis and sepsis have almost been unseen in this age group. The rotavirus vaccine, which began in 2010, has significantly cut down the number of children hospitalized for serious diarrhea.
The ministry’s website, www.health.gov.il, has more information on childhood vaccination, as well as shots for adults, health system workers and those planning to travel abroad.
The WHO said the special week “provides the opportunity to remind families and communities how effective vaccines can be, and to encourage people to take action to ensure that more children – and increasingly people in other age groups – are immunized against deadly and debilitating diseases.”
One important driver of this progress, it said, has been the WHO’s Expanded Program on Immunization, which celebrates its 40th anniversary in May and has been established in all countries. Priority is given to 40 countries where routine immunization coverage is the lowest and to the districts within those countries where children are least protected. When the Expanded Program on Immunization was established, just 5% of the world’s children were receiving basic immunizations.
Now this figure stands at more than 80%. Nevertheless, more than 22 million of the world’s children (about onefifth of infants) are still not being immunized with basic vaccines, the WHO said.
The UN organization is now encouraging use of new mobile and Internet technologies to deliver information about vaccination directly to people’s mobile phones and social media accounts.