The High Court of Justice on Thursday swiftly rejected a petition to cancel or halt the state's massive polio vaccination program.
The court did not elaborate on the grounds for its decision.
The decision came shockingly fast, only hours after the state filed its response to defend the program against the petition by the group 'Returning Balance'. Going on the offensive, the state said that failure to undertake its already started nationwide vaccination campaign would be an unacceptable "risk of people's lives." The state said that many people's lives could be in danger if a more limited campaign was followed, responding only to already identified outbreak areas, in order to avoid vaccinating people where the virus was not hitting.
The state said that the uncertainty and danger were too great to gamble on such a more conservative vaccination campaign and could even lead to other countries and world health bodies issuing warnings for visiting Israel and placing Israel with a group of third-world countries considered polio risks.
In that respect, the state noted that its vaccination campaign was approved and recommended by top global experts on the issue.
Some 170,000 children around the country out of a total of one million have already received an oral polio vaccine in a campaign due to proceed over the next three months. The Health Ministry announced earlier this week that 35,000 had received two drops of OPV on Tuesday alone.
This brought the total of the national campaign to 74,000 children over three days, in addition to the more urgent vaccination effort, now in its third week, being held in the south of the country, where the wild polio virus was found in sewage and in a few dozen carriers.
As an advanced nation with a highly educated population and a good public health system, Israel is in an excellent position to conduct a major vaccination campaign. But sometimes you can be the victim of your own success: Unfamiliarity with polio seems to breed contempt, at least in some people.
It was different in the 1950s, when the first vaccines were welcomed by parents who marched their kids in for vaccination the moment it was available. Even the occasional side effects got little attention; they were an acceptable price for relief from generations of genuine fear. Until then, every school had a kid or or two in a leg brace, or memories of a kid who was now in an iron lung or simply dead.
Now it's just an "olden times" disease like measles, and the memories have faded. Ignorance and apathy are the unindicted co-conspirators in any public-health disaster.