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Polio Vaccination

'In US, Canada and Sweden, unvaccinated kids are not allowed into kindergartens' Photo: Reuters
'In US, Canada and Sweden, unvaccinated kids are not allowed into kindergartens' Photo: Reuters
 
Smadar Shir Photo: Avigail Uzi
Smadar Shir Photo: Avigail Uzi
 
 

Show some responsibility

Op-ed: State must impose sanctions on parents refusing to vaccinate their children against polio

Smadar Shir
Published: 08.18.13, 07:30 / Israel Opinion

I have a friend who refused to hand her newborn baby, eight days old, to a circumciser who would perform a barbaric ceremony on him which could negatively affect his sexual abilities. I listened to her arguments, told her that in the future her son might feel abnormal and undergo a foreskin removal surgery which would be more complicated than a circumcision, and at some point I gave up. It's between her and her son, and it's none of my business.

 

I have a friend who believes that mosquitoes, cockroaches and other kinds of flying creatures want to live too, so she refuses to use insecticides. Every time she invites me over, I wonder if I feel like being the target of stings and bites and scratch myself the whole time. Sometimes I take the risk, and sometimes I turn down the invitation. It's my choice.

 

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Some of my daughter's classmates have parents who fail to deal with head lice infestation. Not out of principle, but due to lack of time. I refuse to keep quiet about this situation, because even if I spend very precious quality time every evening combing her hair and delousing, my girl will go to school, put her head next to an infected head and come home with captives.

 

In the United States, a child detected with a jungle in his head is sent home for a week, and is only allowed to return to school with a medical certificate verifying that he or she is "clean." If only the Israeli Education Ministry would adopt the same method of dealing with what has become nationwide problem, as it is our right to defend our children – as well as our private heads – against people who have no consideration for others.

 

That is also my attitude towards parents who refuse to include their children in the nationwide polio vaccination campaign because they object to vaccinations in principle. It's not that I see it as an illogical caprice, but the polio vaccine is unlike the measles vaccine, because of the fear of infection. Therefore, as long as they don't live on a deserted and isolated island, it is their duty to consider the society around them.

 

An unvaccinated child constitutes a threat not only to himself but to his friends too, and it's irresponsible on their part to ignore Health Ministry Director-General Dr. Ronni Gamzu, who warned that "parents who fail to vaccinate their children against polio are playing with fire."

 

The polio virus arrived in Israel from Egypt. It may spread, and until we give all children born after January 1, 2004 the weakened active vaccine, we won't be able to eradicate it. As a result, all Israeli citizens will be exposed not only to the dangers of the virus but also to a boycott on the part of the world's enlightened countries, which will start treating us like a third world country and will demand that every tourist present a vaccination certificate before entering them.

 

In the US, in Canada and in Sweden, unvaccinated children are not allowed into kindergartens and their dissident parents are fined. Israel began dealing with this growing phenomenon four years ago by reducing child benefits. Why is the Health Ministry investing enormous public funds in a huge vaccination campaign, but refusing to impose sanctions and punish parents who are failing to show a bit of public responsibility and vaccinate their children?

 

 

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