Jerusalem, Safed and Bnei Brak, all cities with substantially large ultra-orthodox populations, lead the majority of cases of measles.
Nine months after the outbreak of the measles epidemic in Israel, the Ministry of Health published data on the epidemic by location. The figures show that of the 2,040 cases reported to date, the highest number was recorded in Jerusalem: 874 patients, in Beit Shemesh, 266 and in Safed 149 patients. In Bnei Brak, 97 cases were reported and in Beitar Ilit 95 people contracted measles.
Vaccine against measles (Photo: Shutterstock)
The data also show that Tel Aviv, the second most populous city in Israel, recorded 52 cases of measles, while small communities such as Or HaGanuz, a religious community of only 600 residents in the north, had 22 patients and in Kiryat Ye & # 39; arim ultra-Orthodox city near Jerusalem with fewer than 5,000 residents, 19 people suffer from measles.
Data from the Ministry of Health indicate that among the localities with a high number of cases of measles, people with a large religious and ultra-Orthodox population are at the top of the list.
The overall immunization rate in Israel is over 97%, which explains the fact that in large localities, only one or two people contracted the disease. For example, in Haifa, the third largest city, two patients were registered, and in Rishon LeZion, the fourth largest city with a quarter of a million residents, there were only four cases of measles.
In an attempt to stop the spread of the outbreak in Jerusalem, city clinics have expanded their opening hours in recent weeks to allow parents to vaccinate their children. In addition, by order of Deputy Minister of Health, Yaakov Litzman, special ambulances were sent to ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods to vaccinate residents.
Even the rabbis, led by the Sephardic chief rabbi, joined the call of Litzman and the Ministry of Health and published the Halchic rulings demanding that the public go to get vaccinated. In addition, more placements of nurses were added in the Jerusalem District, and unvaccinated visitors were restricted to sensitive hospital departments.
Deputy Minister of Health Yaakov Litzman (Photo: Effi Sharir)
On Sunday morning, the Committee of State Control of the Knesset held a discussion on the preparation of the Ministry of Health to stop the measles epidemic. "We increased immunization against measles in all relevant communities," said Deputy Minister Litzman. "I am pleased with the dramatic increase in public awareness of the importance of immunization, thanks to the intensive work of our medical teams, there is still room for further improvements, and I ask that the entire population be vaccinated to prevent an outbreak of the disease." .
The organization "Midaat", which works to raise awareness about health problems, explains that vaccines also protect people in the population who are not immunized, a phenomenon called "herd immunity". Therefore, babies who have not yet been vaccinated, people with poor immune systems, older people whose immune systems have weakened and even those who deliberately choose not to get vaccinated are protected from the disease by the "protective barrier" that surrounds them
The greater the number of people not immunized, due to laziness or ideological resistance, the more cracks in the protective barrier. This is how the number of people infected increases.
Data from the Ministry of Health indicate that the age group with the highest incidence of measles are children from one to four years old: 614 patients. Between the ages of 5 to 9 years, 399 patients were reported, and among the age group of 10 to 19 years, 265 patients were affected by the disease. 358 babies under one year contracted measles.
Last weekend, the youngest patient who contracted measles in Israel, a three-week-old baby was hospitalized at the Mayanei Hayeshua hospital in Bnei Brak. The baby contracted the illness of his mother, who was not vaccinated and became ill when she was only one week old. The mother was apparently infected by another member of the family. The baby's condition is stable.
"Measles at such a tender age are rare," says Professor Eli Somech, director of the hospital's pediatric ward and specialist in infectious diseases. "In the medical literature, there are only a few reports of morbidity at this age, since most babies are protected by the antibodies that the mother transmits before birth, and are not exposed to the environment in general."