Scare increases as two million Israelis are unvaccinated against measles

MORE than two million Israelis are reported to be either unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated for measles.

An outbreak of measles has spread throughout the country, and lately also in the rest of the world, said Israel’s Channel 13 TV station.

And Israeli media reports on Tuesday exposed the difficulty in solving the crisis.

The health ministry claims that it has only 115,000 doses of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine available and 100,000 additional doses of the MMRV vaccine, which combines the diminished measles, mumps, rubella and varicella vaccine with the addition of chickenpox vaccine.

Even if the two million Israelis would show up tomorrow for vaccinations, the ministry of health is said to be currently unprepared to offer them the services needed.

State Comptroller Yosef Shapira will consider examining the health ministry’s handling of the recent measles outbreak, according to a report released in January.

The comptroller’s office contacted infectious disease and public health experts, and is compiling data to see if past efforts regarding the measles outbreak were sufficient.

However, no formal decision has been made so far over the next steps to take in combating the outbreak.

The ministry has warned the public about the dangers of measles, including that one out of every 10 patients requires hospitalisation after contracting the virus.

Nearly three per cent of hospitalised patients also have encountered issues with pneumonia. According to data, three have contracted meningitis and two measles cases resulted in deaths.

The ministry is now facing intense criticism for its “ineffective” efforts in containing the outbreak, according to media reports.

Critics cite the delayed start of vaccination efforts in the Jerusalem area — the city with the largest number of unvaccinated people.

Moreover, those born between 1957 and 1977 only received one dose of the measles vaccine and are only partially protected.

The measles outbreak has surfaced due to the failure of thousands of parents to vaccinate themselves or their children, particularly among the charedi communities in Jerusalem, say health ministry officials.

Community leaders and rabbis have sent mobile units to affected areas to vaccinate people.

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