Israeli Health Ministry Data Shows ‘Haredi’ Areas Hardest-Hit by Measles Outbreak

By Sephardic News Nov 27, 2018 12:29 PM

Pictured Above: Vaccination in Israel is strongly encouraged after an outbreak of measles in 2018. Parents who choose not to might be fined as part of a proposed measure in the Knesset. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.

(November 27, 2018 / JNS) According to a nine-month study conducted by Israel’s Ministry of Health, cities with large haredi populations suffered the highest number of measles cases in an outbreak that has infected thousands of people.

Of the 2,040 cases of measles reported in the last nine months, 874 cases occurred in Jerusalem, 266 in Beit Shemesh, 149 in Tzfat, 97 in Bnei Brak and 95 in Beitar Illit.

Israel’s second-most populous city, Tel Aviv, recorded 52 cases, while the small ultra-Orthodox community of Or HaGanuz in the north reported 22. Kiryat Ye’arim, an ultra-Orthodox town near Jerusalem, suffered 19 cases.

Just two patients were reported in Haifa, Israel’s third-largest city, and only four in Rishon Letzion, Israel’s fourth-largest city.

The Health Ministry’s data showed that 614 patients were aged 1 to 4 years old; 399 between the ages of 5 and 9; 358 infants under the age of 1; and 265 between ages 10 and 19, meaning that 80 percent of the cases were reported in patients aged 19 and younger.

Jerusalem has attempted to stop the spread of measles by expanding the opening hours of children’s health clinics, with special ambulances being dispatched to haredi neighborhoods to make vaccination as convenient as possible.

Last week, a 3-week-old baby was hospitalized in Bnei Brak after contracting the illness from his unvaccinated mother, who was infected by another family member. The baby was reported to be in stable condition.