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Cablegate: Ministry of Health Warns of an Outbreak of Measles

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RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #0667 0811209
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 211209Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5957
INFO RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 9380
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHDC
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 1849
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 3841

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 000667

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

HHS FOR OGHA - COURY
DEPT FOR OEC/IHA
CAIRO FOR ESTH
AMMAN FOR ESTH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO SCUL CASC IS
SUBJECT: MINISTRY OF HEALTH WARNS OF AN OUTBREAK OF MEASLES

1. (U) Summary. Israel's Ministry of Health has sent out a warning
about an outbreak of measles in the country. Since last summer when
a British tourist traveling to Israel for a wedding in an
ultra-orthodox (Haredi) community in Jerusalem came down with
measles, more than 900 cases of measles have been recorded in
Israel. In 2005 only one case was reported, and in 2006 eleven were
reported.

2. (U) Since the beginning of the present outbreak in September
2007, the MOH has been notified regarding more than 900 cases of
measles. Most of these cases were not immunized, and about 700 of
them are concentrated in Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh. In the MOH
sub-district of Lod, Ramle, and Modiin, there are 50 cases.

3. (U) Due to the infection of a practicing physician and a nurse,
the MOH has recommended that all health workers be vaccinated, and
plans to start next week in the areas of highest infection. The MOH
anticipates that several thousand health care workers will be
vaccinated against measles.

4. (U) There is growing concern about the measles outbreak,
particularly among the Haredi community. In 2003-04 there were two
outbreaks in the Jewish ultra-orthodox communities in Jerusalem,
with a total of 224 cases. Among these cases nearly 92 per cent
were not vaccinated. Because of ultra-Orthodox beliefs, many
refused to cooperate with GOI institutions following the
establishment of the State of Israel. This included the National
Insurance Institute, the Histadrut (National Labor Union) health
maintenance organization that includes well-baby clinics. In recent
decades, the ultra-Orthodox boycott of such state institutions has
weakened, and today even some ultra-orthodox followers have become
ardent HMO members and most of them even vaccinate their children.
However, pockets of resistance to vaccinations remain in very
conservative Jewish communities in Jerusalem. In these communities,
some schools have begun to allow the Israel Association for Public
Health Services (a private provider) to vaccinate their pupils.
This was permitted because letters that were sent home to parents
announcing vaccination opportunities did not bear the MOH logo,
inoculations were administered by nurses of the same gender as
patients to respect cultural sensitivities, and there were
guarantees made that the inoculated children's names would not be
passed on to the MOH.

5. (U) In spite of high national immunization coverage (94-95%) in
Israel, programs to increase and maintain immunization coverage are
essential, and the MOH realizes the need to focus on specific
sub-populations whose immunization rates are low.

JONES

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