Anti-vaccine threats must stop – editorial

The coronavirus pandemic has taken its toll on Israel, like the rest of the world. As of Saturday night, nearly 8,100 Israelis had died from COVID and thousands more had continued to suffer chronic or persistent side effects after contracting the virus.

However, also as of Saturday night, only about 600 new cases were reported and there were fewer than 10,000 active cases, the lowest number in three months. Just two months ago, the country registered more than 5,000 cases per day.

There is no denying the fact that the third booster shot has turned things around and raised hopes that the pandemic is subsiding for Israelis. Jabs work and have saved lives, while allowing us to return to a semblance of normalcy. Places of business are open, cafes and restaurants are beginning to reappear, and culture is making a comeback.

The next step in ensuring this return and allowing families to travel and attend events together is the proposed vaccination for children ages five to 11.

Following the approval of the vaccine for this age cohort by the US Food and Drug Administration, Israel is moving full steam ahead to inoculate this segment of the population.

Israel’s chief of public health, Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, is seen speaking at the Jerusalem Post’s annual conference at the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem, on October 12, 2021 (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI / MAARIV) .

One can be in favor of the COVID vaccine or, as a minority of the population here is, against the vaccine. Although there are many reasons in the world for doing so, Israelis are free to make their own decisions and decide to face the difficulties that lack of a Green Pass entails. It is irresponsible and puts other citizens at risk, but there is no obligation to get vaccinated.

That is why it is incomprehensible that the director of Public Health of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, should have a security detachment to protect her after the police determined that she faces the highest level of risk in the midst of the incitement of anti-vaccines. According to the police, the threats have gone on for months.

Her husband, Dr. Meir Preis, brought the issue to the fore last week when he tweeted: “There are concrete threats to my wife’s life … messages on social media, there are phone numbers, there are explicitly threatening calls.” .

The director general of the Ministry of Health, Professor Nachman Ash, said that Alroy-Preis was not the only health official who was attacked. In a letter last month announcing a 24-hour hotline for employees to report defamation and intimidation, he wrote: “We have recently witnessed extreme statements towards healthcare workers from opponents of the actions the government is taking. state to eradicate the coronavirus, especially of those who oppose vaccines. “

Ash added that criticism sometimes crosses the threshold of “legitimate discussion and can affect the resilience of system workers.”

When disagreements explode into irrational behavior, it is an indication that common sense and politeness have been replaced by unhinged rhetoric and borderline anarchy.

At the other end of the spectrum, recognizing the questions and uncertainties parents face about vaccinating their children, the Ministry of Health will publicly broadcast a meeting of its advisory committee on Thursday at 3 p.m. in an effort to allow the public to witness the discussions that are taking place. place around the vaccination of children under 12 years of age. People can send questions to until Tuesday at 9 am

This is the way that a progressive society deals with problems that are of utmost importance to the population: through reasoned discussion, science, and fact, not through death threats or intimidation.

As we approach the anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin this week, it is even more important to remember how easy it is for a threat to culminate in an act of violence.

We never thought such depraved acts could take place until they happened. It is commendable that the threats against Alroy-Preis are taken seriously. But it is abominable that such threats are being made in the first place against someone who has done so much in the fight against COVID and his selfless colleagues.

Anti-vaccines may refuse to receive the jab. They cannot impose their militant views on others through threats or any other means.

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