Vaxing Public Policy

As with many Western countries, Israel also has it’s share of “anti-vaxxers”.

I know such people, but didn’t really think that it was an issue on the radar of policy-makers until I saw this article in the Times of Israel.  Apparently, there was an iniatitive by MK (Minister of Finance in the previous governement) Yair Lapid to  actually cancel the child allowances paid monthly by the National Insurance Institute to families who do not vaccinate their children. Child allowances, currently around 280 shekels for one child, are slated to rise with the new government. For many families, they are an important element of the family budget.

That condition — which did not specify which vaccines would be included — revives a six-year-old debate on the legality of linking over the past few years welfare benefits to vaccinations. It also comes on the heels of a quiet climb in the number of parents opting out of some or all vaccinations, primarily from within some segments of the ultra-Orthodox community as well as Bedouin families in southern Israel with limited access to medical treatment (another group is found among upper-to-middle class Israelis, based on ideological grounds).

The Haredim and Bedouin, among those most resistant to inoculations, are also among Israel’s most impoverished and have the largest families, so they are ultimately the most dependent on the monthly allowances. Hinging benefits on vaccinations, then, puts them in a tight spot.

I’m not quite sure how it came to pass that anti-vaccination became popular in the ultra-Orthodox community, given the insistence in Jewish Law and practise on taking care of one’s body and health.

Be that as it may, while I am very much opposed to the anti-vaxx movement, this seems like a draconian – in incorrect measure. In the words of Dr. Yitzchak Kadman:

“This is a serious act, even worse than the previous attempt in 2010 to harm the allowances. Then, a reduction of the allowance was being discussed… now this refers to canceling the entire allowance,” lamented Yitzchak Kadman, director of the Israel National Council for the Child, in an email.

Given the public health threats involved with failure to vaccinate, it would seem that limits on public school registration would more effectively target this growing problem.


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3 Responses to Vaxing Public Policy

  1. Rachel says:

    Disagree on this one – too many of the anti-vaxxers are hippie homeschoolers anyway. Get them where it hurts, if we really want impact. Child allowances aren’t good anyway, if we want to provide financial support for parents, it should be in the form of tax breaks or rebates.

  2. Rachel says:

    Anti-vaxxers endanger everyone else. It is not merely a personal decision. If access to health care is part of the problem, then that needs to be solved anyway.

    • shaananlaw says:

      I agree with both of your points. However, the “hippie homeschoolers” or upper-middle class professionals (big anti-vax pockets of which exist in California for example) aren’t going to be affected by a cut in child allowance. The poor people are, so I think Dr. Kadman is saying that the proposal on the table would hit kids twice – both their health and their economic wellbeing. I really do think that we need to think along the lines of regulations in the school system.

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