Health Ministry ad campaign leaves elderly confused over flu shots

NIS 2 million campaign misled the public into thinking that people over 64 no longer need to get vaccinated against the flu.

December 29, 2013 14:36
1 minute read.
A medical worker holds vials containing the flu vaccine in Tel Aviv.

Flu vaccine 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The Health Ministry spent NIS 2 million on TV, radio and Internet public-service advertisements that unintentionally misled the public into thinking that people over 64 no longer need to get vaccinated against the flu, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

The vaccine is free to all Israelis through their health funds and given in the fall and winter to all those who request it.

No mention was made in the advertisements of older people – who are the main population group liable to develop serious complications from influenza and who originally were the major target of flu shots, as the elderly suffer from the highest death rates from such complications.

The publicity campaign, which just ended and included 60 advertisements broadcast on TV alone, stated that the vaccine should be given to babies and young children and adults up to the age of 64.

The campaign – produced by ministry deputy director- general Yair Amikam, who heads the information and international relations department – was unusual for the ministry, as its annual budget for public service ads is very small.

Asked whether the just-ended publicity campaign for flu vaccination constituted a change in policy that previously recommended the shot especially for the elderly plus every Israeli over the age of six months, Amikam replied: “The campaign on flu was prepared on the basis of surveys that we conducted showing who was problematic in going for vaccination against the flu. There is no change in policy that all residents have to be vaccinated,” the deputy director-general said.

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