Passengers of Romania flight urged to get checked after measles scare
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Passengers of Romania flight urged to get checked after measles scare

Health Ministry says a person with infectious illness was on-board Bucharest to Tel Aviv plane last week, amid rampant concern over outbreak

A TAROM aircraft at Bucharest Otopeni Airport. (CC-BY-SA-3.0 Razvan Socol/Wikipedia)
A TAROM aircraft at Bucharest Otopeni Airport. (CC-BY-SA-3.0 Razvan Socol/Wikipedia)

The Health Ministry on Sunday said passengers on a flight from Romania to Israel last week were at risk of contracting the measles virus after a person carrying the disease flew on the plane.

The ministry said passengers on TAROM flight RO153, which departed Bucharest on November 20 at 11:30 p.m should seek medical attention if they were not already vaccinated against the disease.

“Passengers of the flight who haven’t received two vaccine doses against measles are invited to contact the health office closest to their homes by tomorrow, November 26, to clarify whether they need to be vaccinated,” the statement said.

“In general, healthy people who were born before the year 1957 are considered naturally immune to the disease,” the ministry added.

Israel is currently in the grip of a measles outbreak, which is blamed on people who refuse vaccines for themselves or their children for ideological or other reasons.

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 the country in 15 years.

An child is vaccinated at a Tipat Halav clinic in Jerusalem on August 18, 2013. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

There has been a growing phenomenon of parents refusing to vaccinate their children, due to various discredited and disproven claims that the life-saving practice is dangerous.

The outbreak has been centered in the ultra-Orthodox community, where immunization rates are generally lower, and medical official have been scrambling to educate and vaccinate thousands in Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh and elsewhere.

Health officials in the US and UK have also warned of the possibility of the disease spreading to ultra-Orthodox communities there.

Knesset members last week unanimously 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 institutions, including kindergartens, 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.

Illustrative. Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) vaccine vials, with syringe. (iStock by Getty Images/ Andrey Popov)

The law, if authorized in full, would allow the Health Ministry to follow up with children who do not get vaccinations at state-run well-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 NIS 2,000 (approximately $530) per month.

Raoul Wootliff contributed to this report.

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