On Tuesday, the Ministry of Health reported that the total number of measles cases in the country reached 1,401, most of which in Jerusalem, with 838 inhabitants infected – and the vast majority of these cases are in ultra-Orthodox families.
Following an emergency meeting on Monday, the ministry instituted new "intensive" measures to limit the increasing number of cases by extending the hours at tipat halav until 8:00 p.m. for vaccines; recruiting more nurses and medical personnel to administer the vaccines; dispatch mobile vaccination units to specific neighborhoods where parents normally do not vaccinate their children; and deny access to schools and certain areas in hospitals to individuals who have not been vaccinated.
The ministry's efforts seem to be working, as the family health center in the eclectic neighborhood of Nahlaot in Jerusalem was especially crowded on Wednesday afternoon after news of the rise in measles cases.
The waiting room was full of parents sitting and standing while the floor was full of babies in strollers and children crawling on the floor – everyone was waiting to vaccinate their children against measles.
Most families were of religious origin.
Two mothers with children said The Jerusalem Post that they were waiting to give their children the first round of measles vaccines.
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A mother wearing a long skirt and a head covering that did not give her name told the Post, "I did not vaccinate my children before, but after the news of the outbreak, I decided it's time." A 15-month old mother's mother echoed your concern and action.
In Israel, tipat halav centers offer free childcare for mothers and their children from pregnancy to six years of age. One of the main services offered is vaccination against infectious diseases, such as measles.
Maya Asher, the mother of a two-year-old child in the German colony of Jerusalem, said the post that it was not a question of whether she should vaccinate her child; she took her daughter to the local clinic to immunize her, not only from measles, but from all the infectious diseases from which she could protect her child.
Infants two months or older may begin receiving the first round of measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox vaccines.
Asher explains that in the nursery where her daughter attends, all mothers, who are secular or national-religious, are aware of this outbreak, are vaccinating their children and are questioning whether their origin belongs to the haredi community.
"I was sure they came from these anti-vaccination hippies, but the other mothers – and now I am – are beginning to think that ultra-Orthodox families are not immunizing their children," she said.
Asher is now worried that she may need to get another round of the vaccine to protect herself from this outbreak.
Last week, an 18-month-old baby died of measles from his parents. This was the first measles victim in Israel in 15 years.
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