Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef issued a letter on Wednesday advising people to have their children vaccinated against the polio virus, as part of a nationwide campaign.

“I have heard reports from officials in the Health Ministry that some people are concerned about taking the vaccine for polio,” Yosef wrote in a public letter published and distributed to the media.

“This treatment also comes under the [religious injunction] of protecting one’s physical well-being. Bearing this in mind, it is a holy obligation and commandment on every parent to vaccinate their children against the polio disease, in accordance with the precise directions of the Health Ministry, which is doing holy work. ‘He who listens to us will dwell in safety.’” The polio virus, which causes paralysis in children, was detected in sewage treatment plants in February in several cities around the country.

The Ministry of Health subsequently decided to conduct a nationwide vaccination campaign which is currently underway.

Later on Wednesday, a joint letter was issued by both Yosef and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau instructing people to have their children vaccinated against the disease.

The joint letter noted that failure to have children vaccinated could lead to harm to public health.

The haredi website B’hadrei Haredim noted that some parents from the haredi community were not having their children vaccinated, prompting the pronouncements on the issue from the chief rabbis.

“May it be God’s will that the words of Scripture will be fulfilled: ‘All the diseases with which I afflicted Egypt I will not afflict you with, because I am God your healer,’” Yosef concluded.

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