Former MK Moshe Feiglin, who is currently running for the Likud primaries, told KAN Radio on Tuesday morning that anyone under 30 years old should avoid the coronavirus vaccine "like fire."
"No professional backing"
"We are horrified by the shtuyot (nonsense) that were said by someone with no understanding or knowledge on the topic," the Health Ministry tweeted in response.
"It's unfortunate that a man without any professional backing is handing out suggestions based on knee-jerk instincts or delusions while going directly against existing medical knowledge and international studies on the subject, not to mention the instructions of every international organization."
Feiglin in the interview called the vaccines "shots," adding that he himself never got vaccinated against the virus.
He said that he thought that the first shipment of vaccines was justified, as it was for at-risk groups, but that "the Health Ministry forcing little kids" to get vaccinated is a "heinous act."
"It's unfortunate that a man without any professional backing is handing out suggestions based on knee-jerk instincts or delusions while going directly against existing medical knowledge and international studies on the subject, not to mention the instructions of every international organization."Israels Health Ministry on Moshe Feiglin
"If someone under 65 wants to take it, he can,” Feiglin further explained. “But we should remove the pressure on all of Israel to coerce them – we should not make people feel bad if they choose not to vaccinate."
Prof. Tzachi Grossman, chairman of the Israel Pediatrics Association, in response to Moshe Feiglin's remarks, commented: "Feiglin is playing with fire. Is he willing to stand up to parents whose child has reached a critical point because he is not immune to Corona?
“Seven Israeli infants between the ages of six months and five years in the last two years died of COVID-19. Just a few days ago, a two-year-old toddler died from what apparently was COVID-19," Grossman continued. "Resistance to vaccines is one of the most terrible blows we have experienced in the last two years and it needs to be uprooted. Vaccines save lives. point. Feiglin and his friends are life-threatening.”
Vaccination rates in Israel
As of Tuesday, some 6.7 million Israelis have received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 830,400 have received their fourth. According to the Health Ministry, over 70% of Israeli children aged five to 11 are unvaccinated. That statistic drops to about 15% in the 20-29 age range.
In August 2021, Prof. Michal Grinstein-Weiss surveyed 925 Israelis on their vaccination status, determining that the third of respondents who didn't vaccinate said they didn't because they already contracted the virus and felt protected.
Additionally, 61% of respondents who didn't vaccinate said they didn't due to the vaccination status of those around them - friends and family.
Feiglin announced that he will run for the Likud primaries on Sunday. He served as a Likud MK from 2013-2015 and had previously formed his own party called Zehut.
His platforms in the past included a mix of libertarianism and far-right nationalism. Feiglin was also known for promoting the legalization of marijuana.
Eliav Breuer and Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman contributed to this report.