Israelis who have gotten used to the idea of bringing their young children to
well-baby centers for two-drop oral polio vaccination should now prepare to roll
up their sleeves and their children’s for their annual influenza
The vaccination is recommended for everyone over the age of six
months, especially but not only pregnant women, the elderly, and people with
weak immune systems.
Now that the High Holy Days are over and the weather
has turned cool, the flu season is on its way. Complications of the flu annually
bring throngs of patients to hospital internal medicine departments, causing
overcrowding and exhausted medical teams.
Although the killed-virus
vaccine does not prevent all cases of the flu, those who have been vaccinated
are much less likely to have a case with serious complications. Children up to
the age of five are at high risk for flu complications, usually filling
pediatric wards in the winter.
The most common symptoms of the infectious
disease are chills, fever, runny nose, sore throat, muscle pains, headache
(often severe), coughing, weakness/fatigue and general discomfort. It is
considerably more dangerous than the common cold, for which there is no
Maccabi Health Services and Clalit Health Services were the
first to announce their flu vaccine campaign on Tuesday. The injection is
available for free to all health fund members, who need merely to turn up at
their local clinic; no appointment is necessary.
person who wants the Flumist flu vaccine in nasal spray form, which is painless
but also somewhat less effective, must present the clinic nurse with a doctor’s
prescription and pay a fee of NIS 21 at Maccabi.
Maccabi, the country’s
second- largest health fund, said that two of the flu strains from last year –
California A (swine flu) and Victoria A – would be threatening people around the
globe this year as well. The third strain, called Massachusetts B, is new. Flu
vaccine is effective for only one year at a time.
663,000 doses of flu vaccine, about 15 percent more than last year.
Giora Verber, deputy director of Clalit’s medical branch, said that people’s
willingness to get vaccinated was growing every year.
understands that the vaccine provides effective protection against the flu and
the spread of disease,” he said.
Clalit, the country’s largest health
fund said it would start giving flu shots on Thursday, as did the third-largest,
Kupat Holim Meuhedet (which did not make an official
Clalit has ordered and received a million doses, including
25,000 of Flumist.
The health fund said the nasal spray vaccine was meant
for ages two through 49.
Last year, Clalit vaccinated 800,000 of its
members. It is charging members with supplementary health insurance NIS 10 for a
dose of Flumist up to the age of 18, and NIS 49 for people older than
There is no problem administering flu vaccinations to children who
have already received the oral polio vaccine, Clalit said.
Leumit, the smallest health fund, did not announce its plans for flu
All medical staffers, old-agehome employees and others in
direct contact with people at high risk are offered vaccine at their workplaces’
The Health Ministry has not yet made any announcement urging
residents to get their flu shots, perhaps because it has been too busy with its
polio vaccine campaign, but it did recommend them in previous years.
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