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Israel’s dilemma. Can unvaccinated people return to work?

YERUSA ALE EU (AP) – After spending most of last year in detention, Tel Aviv make-up artist Artyom Kavnatsky was ready to return to work. But when he showed up at a recent photo shoot, his employer turned him around. Reason? He was not vaccinated against the coronavirus.

“He did not take me because I was not vaccinated,” Kavnatsky said. “It is discrimination, everything is not right.”

Israel’s rapid vaccination rate has made it one of the few countries that can return to most of its pre-epidemic regime. Bars և businesses, hotels and health clubs have been given a whole new life in Israel, where 80% of the adult population is fully vaccinated, և new infections և COVID-19 mortality has fallen.

Although in Israel there is a hint of what is possible in case of a high level of immunization, it also offers an idea of ​​the forthcoming problems. Workplaces and schools are now struggling with what to do with those who refuse to be vaccinated as the next stage of the epidemic. Again, public health concerns run counter to individual rights և probably new issues of justice. One case is already in court, the others are expected.

Airlines are already considering requesting a travel vaccine or the latest negative test, as is the case with the European Union. Some British and US officials are examining whether evidence of immunization can help return to large-scale rallies, whether the United States continues to have significant resistance to such measures, whether the shot is needed to get the case back, or whether it is even more prickly. question.

In many countries, these decisions may raise the prospect of further wealth distribution անելի access to vaccines. Although the vast majority of the 100,000 Palestinians living in the West Bank, who have Israeli work permits, have been vaccinated, immunization carriers in the West Bank, Gaza, have lagged behind. Many parts of the world, if any, have received fewer vaccines.

So far, Israel has relied heavily on a number of incentives to encourage people to get vaccines. It has established a “green transition” for all vaccinated people who can attend concerts, dine, go to the gym or travel to popular holiday destinations such as Egypt, Cyprus and Greece. Those who do not have a passport are not successful.

The system works well in the areas of leisure and entertainment. But now it is moving to other areas. Health officials have advised banning unvaccinated workers who have not recently had a negative outcome for COVID-19 from schools, nursing homes and other high-risk workplaces.

The Israeli health system has also required that all staff – doctors, nurses, administrators, support staff – receive coronavirus vaccines. If they refuse, they will be transferred to jobs that do not involve contact with high-risk patients.

Human rights groups have expressed concern that such regulations could jeopardize employees’ incomes.

There are similar concerns in the field of education. Israel’s largest university, Tel Aviv, is now in an awkward balance.

As the university resumes individual classes, its vice-chancellor, Eyal Isser, said only vaccinated students could be physically present. Those who do not can study remotely.

“In the early stages, we bring back some of the students according to the green transition, making the lessons available to the rest of the students,” said Isser.

Even if Israel succeeds, hundreds of thousands of people remain unvaccinated. Some who are against vaccines in general, but many who fluctuate from such a fast-moving shot. The United Nations, the United States and European health experts have said that Israeli-approved vaccines are safe and effective.

Kavnatsky, a make-up artist, is more broadly opposed to vaccines and modern medicine, saying that he does not want to “put a needle in the body.” He is not alone. He is one of more than 15,000 members of a Hebrew-language Facebook group critical of state-sponsored immunizations.

In last week’s parliamentary elections, the Rapeh political party, led by Aryan Avni, an outspoken vaccine lawyer, received more than 17,000 votes. It was not enough to enter the parliament, but it shows a challenge for policy makers.

The Israeli Ministry of Health acknowledges that its powers are limited.

“We can not force people to be vaccinated,” said Einav Shimron, the ministry’s deputy director for international relations.

In Israel, the Civil Rights Association, a non-governmental organization dealing with labor issues, said the long-term use of the Green Corridor posed a potential civil rights problem, and called on the government to pass legislation.

“If there is a policy that violates the right to work, the right to choose what to do with one’s body to get a job, then it must go through the legislative process.” said spokeswoman Maya Fried. “There should be a public discussion.”

Meanwhile, the debate is already taking place in court.

In its first major decision on the subject, the Tel Aviv Labor Court in March allowed the day care center to ban a teaching assistant who refused to be vaccinated or tested for coronavirus. The decision is expected to be appealed.

The head of the Israeli Association of Health Physicians, Dr. Nadav Davidovich, said he believed people should be vaccinated, especially given the fact that the vaccine not only prevents the worst results from COVID-19, but can also reduce the spread of the disease. the virus. Israel, with a population of 9.3 million, has recorded at least 6,188 deaths since the epidemic began.

“We see vaccination as an act of solidarity, not just an individual choice,” he said.

Still, he said he was against forced vaccinations or dismissal for refusing. Instead, he prefers alternative approaches, from education to persuasion. Those who continue to refuse may be given different jobs, work remotely, or take frequent tests.

Former military epidemiologist Davidovic has experience in this field. He said more than 90 percent of Israeli recruits who did not want to be vaccinated when they were drafted agreed after receiving medical education.

“I think it is a bad idea to move quickly to coercion,” he said. “Most people are hesitant,” he said. “They are not against vaccines in general.”

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