The Beit Shemesh municipality has announced that anyone who attended Tuesday’s swearing-in ceremony for Mayor Aliza Bloch and has not been vaccinated against measles must consult with medical authorities after it was discovered that a baby with the disease had visited the mayoral offices that day.
According to the Ynet Hebrew-language news site, Bloch will be vaccinated on Sunday. The directive was issued after consultations between the Health Ministry and the Beit Shemesh municipality.
The infected baby was the child of an employee, and only visited parts of the building, the city said.
Israel is currently in the grip of a measles outbreak, which is blamed on those who are not immunized against the disease. Hundreds fell ill with the infectious virus this year, and an 18-month-old toddler died in Jerusalem, the first such death from measles in 15 years.
There has been a growing phenomenon of parents refusing to vaccinate their children, due to various discredited and unproven claims that the life-saving practice is dangerous.
The largest spread of the disease in Israel this year has been recorded in the ultra-Orthodox communities of Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh, due to a refusal by some radical segments of the community to be vaccinated.
Knesset members on Wednesday advanced a bill that would give Israeli authorities the power to sanction parents who do not vaccinate their children and to ban entry to all educational frameworks for any child or person who has not been vaccinated against a disease when there is a national concern over an outbreak of the illness.
MKs backed the so-called “Vaccination Law” by 113 to zero in its preliminary reading, allowing lawmakers to prepare the bill in committee for three further readings.
The law, if authorized in full, would allow the Health Ministry to follow up with children who do not get vaccinations at state-run baby clinics, send their parents an official warning if they continue to refuse, and ministry officials could then decide to apply financial sanctions in an effort to push them to agree to vaccinate.
The sanctions would take the form of reduced tax credits and welfare benefits that could add up to a loss of no more than 2,000 shekels (approximately $530) per month.
A separate clause in the law would apply to entry into public educational institutions — from kindergartens through universities — and proposes that “in circumstances when there is a concern of an outbreak of disease against which there is a routine vaccination, educational institutes will prevent entry to the institute of any child, teacher or other person who is not vaccinated against the disease, according to the directions of the director-general of the Health Ministry, for a suitable period.”
Raoul Wootliff contributed to this report.
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