Health Ministry to take legal action against anti-vaccination doctors

The decision comes as the Health Ministry continues the fight against a large measles outbreak. 4,100 cases of measles have been recorded in Israel since March 2018.

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May 14, 2019 15:51
2 minute read.
A sign warning people of measles in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community of Williamsburg

A sign warning people of measles in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community of Williamsburg is seen in New York. (photo credit: REUTERS/SHANNON STAPLETON)

The Health Ministry is expected to take legal action against two doctors who advised thousands of patients to not get vaccinated, according to Israel Hayom. This is the first time that the Health Ministry will have taken legal action like this against doctors.

The Health Ministry referred to the doctors' actions as "serious negligence." If the doctors are convicted, they may lose their license to practice medicine, according to Israel Hayom.

The decision to take legal action comes after an investigation published in November 2018 included serious allegations that the Ministry did not deal with some doctors who were openly spreading false information about vaccines and encouraging the public not to vaccinate.

According to Israel Hayom, the Health Ministry called in the doctors for clarification in December because of a suspicion that they spread information which "encourages adults and children not to vaccinate. This is misleading the public and harming its health." The summary of the investigation was completed this week.

The decision comes as the Health Ministry continues the fight against a large measles outbreak. 4,100 cases of measles have been recorded in Israel since March 2018, according to Health Ministry statistics.

About 96.1% of Israelis were vaccinated against measles as of September 2018, according to the Ministry.

The measles outbreak has become an international issue as well recently. The World Health Organization reported the highest number of measles cases in decades, with 328,560 cases in 2018. This is nearly double the number of cases reported in 2017.

The Health Ministry released a statement on Tuesday, stressing that children must be vaccinated against measles. The first dose should be given at the age of 12 months and the second dose should be given in first grade. Children who have not yet been vaccinated should be vaccinated as soon as possible.

The statement also recommended that those traveling abroad to Ukraine, Georgia, Madagascar, Albania and Liberia, should make absolutely sure that they are vaccinated.

A serious outbreak has also been occurring in the United States, with 839 cases reported this year, according to the CDC. Since September, 498 cases have occurred in New York City. Most of the cases in New York and New Jersey have involved unvaccinated people in the Orthodox Jewish community. The CDC linked the outbreaks to travelers from abroad, including Israel, Ukraine and the Philippines.

In April, the New York City Health Commissioner ordered every adult and child in affected areas to get vaccinated. Those who do not get vaccinated could be subject to a fine of $1,000. Schools which allow unvaccinated students to attend face possible closure.


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