To immunize or not to immunize? Over the past decade, increased access to medical information and spirited debate on social media on the one hand, and pinpointed outbreaks of diseases like swine flu and polio on the other, have made clear to the medical community that the age of blind obedience to medical advice on immunizations is over.
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In 2013, Israel's Health Ministry found itself working hard to urge people to get immunizations against the polio virus, which had reared up in the sewage system in various places in Israel. At the end of the campaign, the vaccination became part of the usual panel of immunizations in order to reach a rate of 98 percent that would constitute effective “herd immunity.”
Along the way, the ministry has had to deal with quite a few questions and criticism by the public and the media. In a baby’s first year, he or she receives 11 shots and three immunizations by means of oral drops. The drops, and some of the shots, are given a few times over the year, and they include 33 doses of immunization against 12 diseases and infections.
Children usually complete the entire course of immunizations by the age of 6.
At least 95 percent of parents in Israel have their children immunized according to the schedule recommended by the Health Ministry. However there is concern in Israel over an erosion of faith in the medical system with regard to immunization. Among the reasons is the absence of a collective tangible memory of the outbreak of a fatal disease and with it a lack of realization of what it would mean, as well as concern that establishment is not presenting a full picture of possible risks and complications.
In 2014 a report by the state comptroller found increased resistance to immunization among parents in Israel fueled, among other reasons, by concentration of everything involving immunization in the Health Ministry, including assessing itself after implementation.
Since publication of the report, the ministry has launched a national data-collection system for immunizations up to the age of 18.