Vaccination against the flu.
(photo credit: CLALIT HEALTH SERVICES)
The four public health funds have purchased near two million doses of influenza vaccine and begun to inject them – for free – at community clinics to those aged six months and up.
Every year, unvaccinated people of all ages are liable to be infected by the flu virus and develop complications that usually result in packed internal medicine and pediatrics departments in the winter.
Dr. Giora Werber, deputy director of the medical branch at Clalit Health Services, said on Thursday that “in recent years, we have seen growing public willingness to get vaccinated against the flu. However, unfortunately, there are still sectors – including doctors, nurses, and other medical workers even though they are constantly exposed to sick people – who believe that the flu is a mild condition whose side effects pass by themselves in a few days. In fact, possible complications include pneumonia, bronchitis, sinusitis, nervous system conditions, and a worsening of chronic conditions.
The shots are meant not only for the middle aged and elderly, but also babies over six months old and children whose immune systems are relatively weak.
Even healthy, young people should be vaccinated so they do not have to miss work and suffer from unpleasant symptoms, including fever, coughing, weakness, and muscle pains.
Clalit purchased over a million doses of the shots, while it also bought 40,000 doses of Flumist, a nasal spray meant for individuals aged from two through 49 years.
At Clalit, the nasal spray costs NIS 10 per dose up to the age of 18 and NIS 49 over that age for those who have supplementary health insurance from their insurer.
Neither children nor adults should get the shot if they have a fever.
Appointments do not have to be made; just go to your health fund nurse for the shot or nasal spray.
Last year, Clalit, the largest health fund, vaccinated 900,000 of its more than three million insured. Vaccination was higher among people over 65 and children.
The vaccine cannot cause flu in those who receive the shots, as the virus in them is killed. It consists of three strains of flu virus that were here last year. People are advised to get their shot early because it takes a few weeks for the protective antibodies to form.
Maccabi Health Services, the second-largest health fund, has also bought Flumist and will provide it free for children aged two to six years, in addition to the shots. For children aged seven to 12, the cost for Flumis is NI 12 with a doctor’s prescription, while members aged 31 to 49 can get it for NIS 49 each. Maccabi said it purchased 372,000 shots and 20,000 units of Flumist.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Asher Grunis, who is known to take care of his health, went to his Maccabi clinic to get the shot on the first day of the campaign.
“Even a judge can get flu, so it’s very good for him to be vaccinated; if he has to take sick days, it hurts the public,” he explained.
The flu virus, according to various studies, harms the world’s economy more than any other due to sick leave, and it also interferes with studies in educational institutions.
Meuhedet and Leumit Health Services have also purchased the vaccines for their members and have begun giving them to all comers.