Health officials called late last week on the parents of some 70 babies from a WIZO daycare center in Jerusalem to be vaccinated against measles after it was discovered that a woman on the center’s staff had the disease.
The daycare center, in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Beit Hakerem, has three age groups – babies, toddlers and pre-kindergarten – with between 20 and 25 children in each group. On Friday, the daycare center director informed parents that one of the center’s caregivers who works with the babies had been diagnosed with measles. In keeping with Health Ministry directives, the center’s director called on the parents to have their babies initially vaccinated or take the second and final shot immediately. All children at the daycare center must be inoculated because all the age groups use the lobby.
The parents were also called on to vaccinate anyone who visited the daycare center recently and is in the high-risk group, for example, young siblings who came with their parents to pick up the children at the center.
“Our son is in the pre-kindergarten and we took him to the emergency room at Shaare Zedek Medical Center to inoculate him,” one of the parents said. One of the mothers said her son, who is a year and eight months old, is in the daycare center but so is her six-month-old daughter who comes in with her to pick up the boy. “She was exposed too. We ran with her right away on Friday to Shaare Zedek for a vaccination. All the parents of the babies were there and it was a chaos. We went in at 1 P.M. and came out at 6 P.M.”
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The caregiver who was infected is a new immigrant and according to the parents, she said she had been inoculated against measles. They said that they were told that she went to the doctor as soon as her symptoms appeared, and the doctor did not suspect measles. The caregiver was not given sick leave and so she continued to come to work throughout last week. Only on Thursday, after a rash appeared, a clear sign of measles, was she diagnosed.
The first vaccination against measles is given at 12 months of age, so the babies at the daycare center where the caregiver worked, and came into direct contact with her, are at high risk for contracting the disease. The center director told the parents of children who had not been vaccinated at all to go immediately to a hospital emergency room and have their children vaccinated by passive immunization (injection of antibodies). The rest of the children, who had already received their first vaccination, were referred Sunday morning to well-baby clinics in Jerusalem. The first dose of vaccine inoculates with 94 percent efficacy. The second dose raises efficacy to 97 percent.