TEL AVIV (Oct. 10)
The Health Ministry began its polio vaccination campaign Sunday to immunize a half-million Israelis under 40, but all did not run smoothly.
Thousands of anxious mothers brought their infants to public health clinics to get the Salk or Sabin vaccines.
But many also brought kindergarten children and first graders, who were supposed to wait until Monday and get their vaccine at school.
Spot shortages developed at the clinics as a result, and some mothers panicked until new stocks were rushed from central stores.
Israel Radio did not help matters by reporting Monday that Professors Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin, inventors of the vaccines that bear their names, were quarreling over which is the more effective.
The Salk vaccine, consisting of dead virus, is administered by injection into the bloodstream. The Sabin vaccine, containing live but weakened virus, is taken orally.
Doctors and health specialists say the polio outbreak is on the wane. In all, only 10 cases were confirmed since the disease was detected late in August.
Another three or four are “suspected,” pending full laboratory examination results.
Nevertheless, the Health Ministry decided on a mass vaccination program. It acted on the recommendation of three international polio experts who proposed that both the Salk and Sabin vaccines be used.
The experts say that people over 40 here and abroad are naturally immune, because of widespread polio epidemics in the 1950s.