Deputy Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman is intent on preventing the spread of flu and other diseases, both among children and adults. In response to a question posed by Channel Ten reporters, Rabbi Litzman said Thursday that the government was “considering taking away rights from parents who refuse to inoculate their children.” He did not specify which rights he was talking about.
Rabbi Litzman made the comments to reporters after he himself, along with Health Minister General Director Moshe Bar Simantov got their own flu shots at a clinic in Tel Aviv. “Inoculations are a cornerstone in fighting infectious diseases,” Rabbi Litzman said. “They are an important factor in ensuring the health of children and of the public. I came this morning to get my flu inoculation, as I do every year. I would recommend that everyone get an inoculation, especially this year. Inoculations are the best defense against the outbreak of serious diseases.”
Earlier this year, Rabbi Litzman said that he would consider sanctions against parents of school-age children who do not give them inoculations. “As is well known, inoculations are the basic building bloc in preventing the spread of communicable diseases, and they contribute to the general health of children, and of society in general,” Rabbi Litzman said.
“The inoculations we recommend that children get are all well-tested and safe, and they prevent illness and the unfortunate complications that can result. Children without inoculations not only endanger themselves, but endanger other children as well and everyone else around them. The danger is exacerbated when a child is in an educational setting and sits together with other children in class.” Among the plans he is considering is providing all inoculations for childhood diseases in the context of school programs, the Ministry said.
While inoculation rates in Israel were relatively high compared to other countries, “in recent years there have been instances in which parents refused to inoculate their children. The more children are inoculated, the more they protect against disease. There are numerous countries that will not allow children into schools unless they are inoculated,” Rabbi Litzman wrote in a Ministry memo, and Israel should consider doing the same.
The year 2017 was an especially difficult one for flu sufferers. According to Ministry figures, 294 people were hospitalized in serious condition as a result of contracting the flu. 131 of them passed away. That was significantly higher than the average for the past eight years, when 140 people were hospitalized for treatment of the flu each year, and 39 died annually.