Court orders 12-year-old to be vaccinated for measles despite father’s refusal
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Court orders 12-year-old to be vaccinated for measles despite father’s refusal

Amid resurgence of disease, Tel Aviv judge accepts mother’s petition, likens avoiding inoculation to crossing the road with eyes covered and hoping not to be hit by a car

Illustrative photo of a man receiving a vaccine in Safed in northern Israel, November 6, 2018. (David Cohen/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of a man receiving a vaccine in Safed in northern Israel, November 6, 2018. (David Cohen/Flash90)

The mother of a 12-year-old girl will be allowed to vaccinate her against measles despite the objections of the father, a family court in Tel Aviv ruled this week.

“One who claims that not everyone who is unvaccinated will contract measles may as well claim that not everyone who crosses the road with their eyes covered will be hit by a car,” the judge wrote in his decision Wednesday.

The woman had appealed to the court after her former husband refused to allow his daughter to be inoculated, insisting there was no danger of her contracting the disease.

The mother noted in her petition to the court that the child had been vaccinated as an infant against all manner of diseases, but not measles, as it did not seem necessary at the time.

“The principle that guides the court’s hand on the subject of minors, where there is a lack of agreement on issues under parents’ authority as their children’s natural guardians, is what is best for the child,” Judge Yehoram Shaked said. “Accepting the request is clearly in the child’s best interest.”

Recent years have seen a growing trend of parents refusing to vaccinate their children, due to various discredited claims that the life-saving practice is dangerous.

There has now been an international resurgence of the nearly eliminated virus. Israel has seen a renewed outbreak of measles since March of last year, with at least 2,857 cases reported. Infections have mostly centered on the country’s ultra-Orthodox community, where inoculation rates have generally been low.

For adults the highly contagious disease is usually fairly benign. However, in infants and young children it can be deadly and can have several severe complications including pneumonia and encephalitis. In rare cases a deadly inflammation of the brain can occur years after recovery from the disease.

According to the World Health Organization, measles is believed to have caused 110,000 deaths worldwide in 2017. The vaccine is thought to have saved over 21 million lives just since the start of the century.

In October Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman warned that he will consider taking measures against families who refuse to vaccinate their children. In December, a health official forbade 14 children in the country’s north from attending kindergarten because their parents refused to vaccinate them. The decision marked the first-ever such order given by a state medical official.

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