Calling on parents to vaccinate children up to age 10 with oral polio vaccine,
President Shimon Peres disclosed Wednesday that one of his sons had contracted
the paralytic disease as a baby – and recovered.
Peres accompanied Health
Minister Yael German on a morning visit to the Jerusalem Municipality’s tipat
halav (well-baby) station in the city’s East Talpiot neighborhood.
of my children was a victim of polio,” Peres told those present, including
senior Health Ministry and municipality officials.
Although the president
did not name the child, The Jerusalem Post learned that it was Yoni
“He was eight months old, and Sonia and I stood next to his crib
as he burned with fever and shook from pain for three days and nights,” the
president recalled. “We were very worried and helpless.
For more than a
year and a half after that, he was paralyzed in his lower
Fortunately Peres’s son went through months of rehabilitation and
“Today, he is healthy,” said the 90-year-old president. “I
don’t wish such an experience on anybody. It was the most cruel experience I
went through as a father. I call on all mothers and fathers to prevent such
suffering in your children. You have the power to do so.”
He added that
Israel had a highly advanced level of healthcare.
“Our doctors are among
the best in the world. They are concerned only with your children’s welfare”
when they recommend oral polio vaccine, he said, urging parents to “listen to
them” and go for vaccination.
“I promise you that theirs is the most
professional, humane and responsible advice you will get. We must vaccinate the
children and do it as fast as possible to prevent the spread of the virus,”
The wild polio virus was first detected at sewage treatment
plants in the South last February. A few thousand healthy carriers are believed
to have the virus, but as over 98 percent of the population has undergone
killed-virus injections, no one has contracted the paralytic disease.
prevent unprotected children or adults from taking sick, the Health Ministry
launched an oral polio vaccine campaign in the South, where the wild virus was
discovered, and then expanded it to the whole country.
The virus has been
detected in sewage as far north as Hadera. It was also reported on Wednesday in
Ofakim in the Negev for the first time.
German and ministry public health
chief Prof. Itamar Grotto said that since August 5, nearly two-thirds of
children in the South had received the two drops of oral vaccine. So far, more
than 242,000 children around the country have received attenuated-virus
German said that although the wild virus had apparently
originated in someone arriving from Egypt, it had not been found in the
“We are like an island in which a virus has
erupted and spread, so there is a need to fight it and prevent the paralytic
diseases from appearing,” said German.
Because of the high level of
cooperation from parents, the ministry said it was expanding the opening hours
of tipat halav centers around the country: They will be open until 8 p.m. in all
cities, large towns and settlements.
Information about the hours is
available by phone at *5400 or on the ministry’s website at