Rotem Amitai a victim of measles (family photo)
Photo: Courtesy of the family
A victim of the anti-vaccination movement
Opinion: Some 4,300 Israelis contracted a long-gone disease this year because of a movement that doesn’t respond to reason; the health ministry can't simply settle for more nursing stations for newborns — it has to fight fake news and not leave the media arena to random new age experts
The death of Rotem Amitai, an El Al flight attendant who contracted measles on a flight from New York to Tel Aviv, is indeed an unusual event. In western and developed countries, there is no reason for such events to ever take place.
But in Israel — and in several other European countries in the past year — measles is spreading. According to health ministry data, some 4,300 Israelis contracted the disease, that should have disappeared from the face of the planet decade ago.
Only 40 years ago, measles and whooping cough were diseases that took the lives many young children, with complications that cause short- and long-term damage to adults. But with technological advancements and vaccinations, these diseases quickly became a rare event. The rate of contraction dropped dramatically. For 20 years, there was not a single death from measles in Israel.
But in recent years, a new, and no less dangerous disease began spreading: the anti-vaccination movement. This is no less than a dangerous cult, with members certain that vaccines are a conspiracy pumped by fake research that big pharma companies conduct to make a fortune off the public.
This ever-growing group claims that our bodies are well equipped to naturally fight off any sickness. No rational explanation or plea has been able to change that opinion. No scientific proof has been seen as reliable to them.
Freedom of speech is an important right in a democratic country, and everyone is entitled to an opinion. However, when it comes to vaccinations, this could be dangerous. Spreading false information on social media causes serious damages to public health, and the health ministry cannot simply settle for more nursing stations for newborns. It has to fight fake news and not leave the media arena to random new age experts.
Three Israelis died this year from the measles and its complications. They are victims of the anti-vaccination movement. Parents' decisions not to vaccinate their children, whether because of ideological reasons, or simply because they can't find the time, harms society's immunization against these deseases. It can potentially harm weaker populations, like cancer patients, children and pregnant women.
The National Health Organization declared the anti-vaccination movement to be the biggest strategic threat in the upcoming decade. It isn’t a false alarm.
True, measles has been in decline in Israel in the past few months. But the health ministry and scientists are not only out to stop it from spreading in Israel; it has to be stopped all around the world. Quickly, before someone else looses his life over a long-gone disease.