Peres urges Israelis to continue polio vaccines

Wednesday, August 28, 2013 |  Yossi Aloni

President Shimon Peres visited a child care clinic in Jerusalem where he praised the Health Ministry efforts to prevent a new outbreak of polio and urged all Israelis to get their kids inoculated, revealing that his own family had to battle the debilitating virus during a previous outbreak.

"One of my children was a victim of polio at the age of 8 months," Peres recalled. "My wife Sonya and I were at his bedside as he was feverish and shivering in pain for three days and three nights. We were helpless. For the next year and a half later my son was paralyzed in the lower body."

Fortunately for the Peres family, their son made a near full recovery following months of rehabilitation. Not everyone is so lucky. "I do not wish this experience on anyone," the president continued. "I call on all parents in Israel - prevent your children from suffering - it's within your power!"

Some parents in Israel are concerned the vaccination could have ill effect on their little ones, and have been putting off or out right avoiding the new treatment.

To them, Peres said: "The doctors in Israel are among the best in the world, and parents can trust them 100 percent. In Israel the infant mortality rate is among the lowest in the world - and there is no other explanation except that we have the best doctors."

Israel launched the new polio vaccination campaign after strains of the virus were found in sewage pipes in the south of the country. Later tests revealed that it had spread to the north, and that at least dozens of people were carrying the virus.

In the first three days of the campaign, 128,000 Israeli children were inoculated. The plan calls for one million children to receive a significantly weakened polio strain, and for the vaccine to spread from those children to the rest of the population.

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