Summer is not quite over, but the Health Ministry has already embarked on its annual campaign to convince more Israelis to take flu shots. According to Ministry figures, the four large health funds (HMO) that serve the vast majority of Israelis have acquired a total of some 2 million inoculations. The inoculations come in the form of an injection, but after being absent for several years after approval by the Ministry, individuals age 49 or over can once again opt for a nasal application of the inoculation.
The Ministry itself has purchased 300,000 inoculations for students in younger grades. For the past several years, shots have been administered in schools to students in second and third grades. For the first time, they will also be administered to students in fourth grade. For the rest of the population, flu shots are distributed for free at the health funds.
The Ministry recommends that all individuals six months or older be inoculated. Especially recommended for inoculations are those in what the Ministry termed “groups at risk,” including children under six and individuals age 50 and over, as well as individuals suffering from chronic diseases such as diabetes, blood or heart disease, health workers, and others.
2017 was especially difficult for flu sufferers. According to Ministry figures, 294 people were hospitalized in serious condition as a result of contracting the flu. 131 of them passed away. That was significantly higher than the average for the past eight years, when 140 people were hospitalized for treatment of the flu each year, and 39 died annually.