Report: Israel Hayom claims 'danger at schools' with hundreds unvaccinated

According to Health Ministry officials, the measles outbreak has surfaced due to the failure of thousands of parents to vaccinate their children.

Jewish children, near the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, ahead of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, in Ashdod (photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)
Jewish children, near the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, ahead of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, in Ashdod
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)
An estimated 500 to 600 children from four schools have not been vaccinated in Pardess Hanna in the Haifa district, according to a report on Sunday in Israel Hayom. The Health Ministry has not held a significant follow-up with the communities to address the problem until this past week, even though the measles outbreak has been prevalent for the past few months.
The Health Ministry has since shown their inability to contain the outbreak within Israel’s affected communities, and at the moment there have been 2,000 reported cases of Israelis who have contracted measles during the last few months, according to Israel Hayom.
The measles outbreak has surfaced due to the failure of thousands of parents to vaccinate their children, particularly among the ultra-Orthodox communities in Jerusalem, according to Health Ministry officials. Community leaders and rabbis have sent mobile units to these neighborhoods to vaccinate citizens living in the affected areas.
Causing an uproar, members of the Knesset Health Committee over the past few months have said more should be done to encourage haredim to agree to be vaccinated, while quoting the Health Ministry data.
“The antisemites in Europe once blamed the Jews for spreading the Black Plague,” Bayit Yehudi coalition head Shuli Moalem-Refaeli said. “Now, [the committee] is blaming the haredim for the measles. It is too bad that a meeting with national importance has stooped to a blame-fest.”
However, last Thursday, the Pardess Hanna community underwent a successful vaccination campaign initiated the parents of the children, and not by the Health Ministry itself.
The Health Ministry has not held any informational seminars to encourage these parents to immunize their children, and even though the Health Ministry offers to pay for these services, the parents still decline them just the same, according to Israel Hayom.
“It’s really tragic how for years the Health Ministry has hardly done anything to inform the parents within these schools, who refuse to vaccinate their children and are not privy to public awareness and the encouragement of immunization,” a senior Health Ministry official told Israel Hayom. “In the center of the country, where a severe measles problem has already been discovered, the Ministry of Health has not done anything substantial to gain effective control over the area in years, it seems.”
However, the Health Ministry claims that immunization rates in Israel are among the highest in the world, despite the current measles outbreak.
Israel Hayom’s health commentator chooses to interpret the reality in isolation from the data, and the rates of immunization in Israel are the highest in the world, thanks to the ministry’s long-standing activities,” the Health Ministry said in response to data published by Israel Hayom. “To wonder about the irrelevant motives of the commentator, and the latest outbreak was the result of outbreaks abroad and populations not registered within the Ministry of the Interior, so, therefore, the health system has no access to them. Nevertheless, the ministry carried out unprecedented measures and increased the rate of immunization. We are proud of the team and the ministry for their impressive recruitment.”
On average, about half of the children in these communities are not immunized due to the wishes of their parents. The Health Ministry requires children by the age of one year to be vaccinated for measles and other contagious diseases, however, mostly due to religious beliefs parents do not follow this law. School principals also hold no formal authority in enforcing health safety in and around schoolyards.
While the outbreak continues to grow, the Health Ministry will be forced to change their strategy toward these communities in the near future – implicating and administrating more successful, informative and persuasive campaigns without ignoring affected communities.

Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.