Vaccination against the flu.
(photo credit: CLALIT HEALTH SERVICES)
Parents who refuse to vaccinate their children could be fined NIS 2,000 if a bill approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday becomes law.
The bill is meant to regulate the state’s treatment of anti-vaccine families, and will allow the Health Ministry to keep unvaccinated children out of schools when there is a concern of an outbreak.
The proposal includes requiring the Health Ministry to keep track of which children have been immunized, according to the ministry’s recommendations, and to send a warning to parents of those who have not been inoculated.
If the parents do not have their children vaccinated after the warning, they will be invited to a meeting to explain to them the importance of vaccinating. If they still refuse at the end, they will have to sign a document saying so. At that point, any parents who do not inoculate their children can lose income tax rebates valued at up to NIS 2,000.
There have been more than 1,000 cases of measles reported in Israel this year, the bulk of which are in the Jerusalem area. The Health Ministry said earlier this year that 90% of the cases in Israel were either people who had not been vaccinated, or who came into contact with unvaccinated people.Measles can have lasting effects such as hearing loss, and is fatal
for one in 1,000 children who catch it.
The MMR vaccine is 97% effective in preventing infection with the measles virus when the recommended two doses are received on time, according to the Health Ministry.
The proposal by MKs Shuli Moallem-Refaeli (Bayit Yehudi) and Yoel Hasson (Zionist Union) was written by family health organization Midaat, and is backed by the Israel Medical Association and the Israel Pediatric Association.
Hasson praised the ministerial committee for voting “to heal a sick system.
“Now we will be able to implement the national vaccination policy… which balances protecting public health with freedom. I am happy to initiate a long-term solution that will protect our children’s health,” Hasson said.
Moallem-Refaeli, a nurse by profession, said “children who are not vaccinated are in danger of catching diseases and can spread them to those surrounding them and be the center for outbreaks of serious diseases that can have tragic results.
“We must respond to parents who refuse to vaccinate from lack of knowledge or ideological reasons, and bring better public health,” she added.
In light of the current political situation, the bill is unlikely to reach a final vote before the Knesset is dispersed. However, if it passes a first reading, the Knesset will be required to continue work where it left off after the 2019 election.
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