Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Nachman Ash on Wednesday signed an order allowing schools to vaccinate students during school hours. Prof. Ash’s new order repealed Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton’s objection to vaccinations on school grounds.
Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit helped formulate the order in coordination with Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz to circumvent the Education Minister’s opposition.
The Justice Ministry believes the Education Minister is not authorized to prevent students with parental approval for their vaccination from being vaccinated during school hours on school property. Incidentally, both the Justice and Education Ministers belong to the New Hope party.
Ash said Wednesday morning that the vaccines, “particularly of the younger population which is more contagious,” are the main means of lowering infection rates, “which is why it is important to do it in any way possible.” He noted that “schools are a place where we’ve been vaccinating for years. I see no problem in continuing to vaccinate with this vaccine as well.”
On Monday we reported that several government ministers, some of them senior, had approached Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz demanding that they issue an order that permits vaccinations in schools during school hours, without the consent of Shasha-Biton.
Teachers’ Union Secretary-General Yaffa Ben-David on Wednesday sided with the Education Minister. Speaking at a conference of directors of education departments in Tel Aviv, she said: “I support her unequivocally – vaccines should not be given during school hours.” She did call on parents to vaccinate their children but added: “It doesn’t make sense to throw the responsibility on school principals. We will not cooperate with this action. If they want to make decisions – let them decide for themselves.”
The law allows the Health Minister to declare a contagious disease as a pandemic and gives the minister and the entire government broad authorization to fight the menace.
According to Education Ministry data that was presented to the Knesset on Tuesday, the nationwide rate of adolescents who are exempt from isolation among students in grades 7-9 reaches is only 36% (including about 27% who are vaccinated and 10% who are recovering). In grades 10-12, the corresponding rate is 62% (50% are vaccinated and another 12% recovering).
About 200,000 students in grades 8-12 live in red localities.