Some 30,000 children were vaccinated Sunday for the polio
virus. "This is a promising start which exceeds our expectations," a Health Ministry representative stated.
Those who were vaccinated Sunday join 50,000 children from Israel's south who were administered the vaccine.
The Health Ministry identified 42 polio carriers out of thousands of stool samples tested thus far.
According to the ministry, "these data point to 4.4% of the samples and therefore indicates the number of carriers is not insignificant."
"One must remember that this is an unrepresentative sample of children under the age of eight and that the number of samples tested has increased," Itamar Grotto, manager of the public office for medical services said. "That is why we estimate that when the samples were taken there were more than a 1,000 carriers in the south and the effect of the vaccine was most likely not strong enough at the time to reduce the number of carriers."
Photo: Ido Erez
Photo: Motti Kimchi
Prof. Eli Somec, chairman of the Pediatric Association, told Ynet that "it should be noted that each carrier is in fact temporary, carrying the virus for several weeks – but during that time a carrier can pass the virus on to others, which is why it is important to break the chain by vaccinating all children under the age of nine. We know that most carriers are in that age group."
A High Court petition was filed by an anti-vaccine association, asking that the court issue an injunction to prevent the Health Ministry from administering the vaccine, citing lack of sufficient information given to parents. The State is to rule on the petition by September 11.
Vaccines have been administered in southern Israel
for the past two weeks in the form of a live and weakened vaccine against the virus.
The vaccinations have been taking place in Health Ministry's
Tipat Halav baby clinics, as well as in health care clinics in Tel Aviv
Medical centers' operating hours were extended in order to meet residents' local needs.
Speaking to Ynet, Health Minister Yael German
said Saturday: "As the health minister, who… consulted with many doctors and professionals, I am convinced beyond any doubt that whoever carries the inactivated vaccine is safe when receiving the vaccine via drops.
"We know this due to worldwide experience as well as experience in Israel. From 1990 to 2004 we gave the inactivated vaccine as well as the live-weakened one. Six million doses were administered in that period of time and not a single case of the disease was found, and that is why we do not fear it will happen this time."
Dana Aharon, 31, refuses to get her 4-year-old daughter vaccinated. Despite reports of increasing number of carriers of the virus and the Health Ministry awareness campaign, she said that according to what she had discovered, "In 2005, they stopped using drops because they found out it could cause the disease to manifest among children who have already been vaccinated."
Aharon said she believed the Health Ministry was causing alarm: "No one is justifying this extensive vaccination. The vaccine in its current form is administered in India and Africa, where they found out there were more cases of paralysis resulting from the vaccine than from the virus itself."
According to her, "Public appearances by Health Ministry officials convey unreliability. No doctor has given answers to parents' legitimate questions."
Other parents were on the fence, some saying that if everyone in their surrounding went ahead with the vaccination they would too, despite their concerns, others relying on previous vaccination, administered to their children in infancy.
Earlier August, it was decided to vaccinate children across the country as evidence of the virus was found not only in the country's south, but also in Ramla and Lod, cities in central Israel.
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