With flu season coming up, doctors and health organizations are urging Israelis to take flu shots — but according to Health Ministry statistics, in 2016 a large majority of doctors and nurses did not take inoculations against the flu. In mental health facilities, only 39 percent of doctors themselves were inoculated, while among nurses, the figure was just 34 percent. Almost as bad were geriatric facilities, where a large number of patients were likely to get the flu; there, 48 percent of doctors took shots, while only 40 percent of nurses did.
In general care hospitals, the numbers were a bit better, with 54 percent of doctors and 46 percent of nurses getting flu shots. The hospital with the lowest number of inoculated staff was Bnei Brak’s Maayanei Hayeshua, where only 21 percent of staff got shots in 2016.
That institution was followed by Assaf Harofeh Hospital in Rishon LeTzion, where only 27 percent of staff were inoculated. At Hadassah Ein Kerem in Yerushalayim, the figure was 30 percent, and at Laniado Hospital in Netanya and Ziv Hospital in Tzfas, the figure was 38 percent. The highest levels of inoculations among staff were in Hasharon Hospital (89 percent), Petach Tikvah’s Beilinson Hospital (68 percent), and Tel Aviv’s Soroka Hospital (64 percent.
Speaking to Yediot Acharonot, Health Ministry official Dr. Vered Ezra did not speculate on why it was so difficult to persuade doctors to make time and get their shots — but difficult it was. “Every year we try, but we cannot force them,” she said, stressing that the Ministry had thought about requiring staff to get inoculated, but decided against it. “We have published our recommendations and instructions, and we support hospital directors to guide their staff and encourage them to get inoculations,” she added.