(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
The Knesset passed a preliminary reading of a bill that allows placing sanctions on parents who refuse to immunize their children, with a majority of 115 supporters on Wednesday. The bill was proposed by MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) and MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (Bayit Yehudi).
In addition, a second law - stating that in the event of an outbreak of an illness, all educational institutions will be required to deny entry to anyone who has not been immunized - passed a preliminary reading with a majority of 112 supporters. The law was initiated by MK Merav Ben-Ari (Kulanu).
"The law is especially important during this time when there is an outbreak of measles throughout the country," Ben-Ari said.
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 Moalem-Refaeli (Bayit Yehudi) and 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.
“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," said Moalem-Refaeli, who is a nurse by profession.
“We must respond to parents who refuse to vaccinate from lack of knowledge or ideological reasons, and bring better public health,” she added.
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.
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