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Izun Hozer petitions Israeli government against nationwide polio vaccination campaign

Posted: August 19, 2013 |   Comments

( The Izun Hozer Association for Dissemination of Health Education has petitioned the Israeli High Court of Justice in an effort to halt the ongoing vaccination campaign there.

The vaccination campaign began after the Israeli government detected wild polio virus in the sewage in the south of the country last February. Since the campaign started in the south of the country two weeks ago, 60,000 children have already been vaccinated. Then, after finding the polio virus in other locations in the country, the Ministry of Health decided to bring the vaccination campaign nationwide. So, on Sunday, an additional 30,000 children were taken to clinics by their parents to be inoculated. No cases of active polio have yet been identified in Israel. The government plans to vaccinate about 1,000,000 children over the course of the campaign in the next three months.

Izun Hozer, which seeks to promote medical knowledge and responsible science, are asking for a freeze on the campaign until certain questions about the vaccine's safety can be answered.

Dikla Baranes, a lawyer representing the group, said the vaccine use was "not tested in any Western country," only on a small group in India, and the results were "very significant" and raised serious question marks.

At yesterday's court hearing, Izun Hozer also accused the ministry of misleading the public by making parents think the vaccine is to protect their children. In fact, as the media have previously reported, children are already protected by the dead-virus vaccine; the point of the current campaign is actually to protect the adults around them, since the live-virus vaccine spreads easily from person to person and will thus end up inoculating adults who come into contact with these children through a process known as herd immunity.

"The children who receive the vaccine are supposed to be a 'defensive shield' for the unvaccinated population," the petition charged. "Instead of vaccinating those people, the [state] prefers to protect them by means of others - children - without their knowledge or that of their parents."

The Health Ministry responded to the petition, saying: "The State of Israel is a democratic country and every citizen has the right to petition the top court on any issue. Physicians and the Health Ministry took a decision to eradicate polio in Israel and to safeguard the health of the public. That decision and the reasons for it will be presented to the court and we are convinced the justices will agree on the necessity of inoculating Israeli children."

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