Jerusalem, Safed and Bnei Brak, all cities with substantially large ultra-orthodox populations, suffer the most cases of measles.
Nine months after the outbreak of the measles epidemic in Israel, the Ministry of Health published data on the epidemic per site. The figures show that of the 2040 cases reported so far, the highest number was registered in Jerusalem – 874 patients, in Beit Shemesh, 266 and in Safed 149 patients. 97 cases were reported in Bnei Brak and 95 people received measles in Beitar Ilit.
The data also shows that Tel Aviv, the second most populous city in Israel, recorded 52 cases of measles, while small communities such as Or HaGanuz, a religious community of only 600 inhabitants in the north, 22 patients and in Kiryat Ye & # 39; arim an ultra-orthodox city near Jerusalem with fewer than 5000 inhabitants, 19 people suffer from measles.
The data from the Ministry of Health indicate that places with a high incidence of measles are at the top of the list with a large religious and ultra-orthodox population.
The total number of immunizations in Israel is over 97%, which explains that in large places only one or two people have contracted the disease. In Haifa, the third largest city, two patients were registered and in Rishon LeZion, the fourth largest city with a quarter of a million inhabitants, there were only four cases of measles.
In an attempt to stop the spread of the outbreak in Jerusalem, the clinics of cities have expanded their opening hours in recent weeks to enable parents to vaccinate their children. In addition, special ambulances were sent to the ultra-orthodox neighborhoods to vaccinate residents on the orders of Deputy Minister of Health Yaakov Litzman.
Even rabbis, led by the Sephardic chief rabbi, took part in the appeal of Litzman and the Ministry of Health and published Halchic statements demanding that the public be vaccinated. In addition, more nurse internships have been added in the Jerusalem District and the access of non-vaccinated visitors to sensitive hospital departments is limited.
On Sunday morning, the State Control Committee of the Knesset held a discussion on the preparedness of the Ministry of Health to stop the measles epidemic. "We have increased the immunization of measles in all relevant communities," said Deputy Minister Litzman. "I am pleased with the dramatic increase in public awareness of the importance of immunization, thanks to the intensive work of our medical teams, and there is still room for additional improvement, and I urge the entire population to be vaccinated to avoid that an outbreak of the disease. "
The "Midaat" organization, which is committed to awareness of health issues, explains that vaccinations also protect individuals in the population who have not been immunized, a phenomenon that & # 39; herd immunity & # 39; is called. Thus, infants who have not yet been vaccinated, people with a poor immune system, elderly people whose immune system is weakened, and even people who deliberately choose not to be vaccinated, are protected against disease by the "protective barrier" around them.
The higher the number of people who have not been immunized, from laziness or ideological resistance, the more cracks in the protective barrier. That is how the number of infected people increases.
Data from the Ministry of Health indicate that the age group with the highest incidence of measles is between one and four years old – 614 patients. Between the ages of 5-9, 399 patients were reported, and among the age group 10-19, 265 patients were affected by the disease. 358 children under the age of one year received measles.
Last weekend, the youngest patient who received measles in Israel, a three-week-old baby was admitted to the Mayanei Hayeshua hospital in Bnei Brak. The baby had the illness of his mother, who had not been vaccinated and herself became ill when he was only a week old. The mother was apparently infected by another family member. The condition of the baby is stable.
"Measles at such a young age are rare", says Prof. Eli Somech, director of the children's department of the hospital and specialist in infectious diseases. "In the medical literature there are only a few reports of morbidity at this age, because most babies are protected by antibodies that have been transmitted by the mother before birth, and are also not exposed to the environment in general. "