Flu vaccine campaigns begin in Israel amid COVID-19 cross infection fears

The two largest health maintenance organizations in Israel are already inviting their members to community clinics to get their flu shots.

Doctor giving a vaccine to a patient (illustrative) (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Doctor giving a vaccine to a patient (illustrative)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

Although Israelis are tired of vaccinations after more than two-and-a-half years of COVID-19, it is urgent that everyone over the age of six months – babies, children, teens and adults – get flu shots as soon as possible. Influenza in the southern hemisphere has proved to be powerful, and combined with a predicted wave of COVID-19 in the coming months, is expected to be dangerous.

The two largest health maintenance organizations – Clalit Health Services and Maccabi Healthcare Services – announced on Monday that they are already inviting their members to community clinics to get their flu shots. Usually, the HMOs wait until after the High Holy Days.

It is best to make appointments via the health fund’s website, app or telephone.

Significant influenza break-out expected in Israel

“We are witnessing a difficult winter in terms of the incidence of influenza in the southern hemisphere and in Australia in particular,” Maccabi head nurse Tami Alkalai said. “That is why we expect a significant incidence of influenza in Israel this coming winter. Flu, despite the public perception, can be severe and lead to various complications and even death, especially among at-risk populations – the elderly, chronic patients, children and infants and pregnant women.

“The best way to protect yourself from the flu and prevent its possible complications is through vaccination. The vaccine is safe and effective, and we recommend that the entire population, with an emphasis on populations at risk, go and get vaccinated.”

Clalit, the HMO with the most members, also launched its flu vaccination campaign after ordering 1,125,000 vaccines, including Flumist nasal spray vaccines for youngsters and special cases, and more powerful vaccines for those 65 and older.

Flurona: The novel coronavirus (top) and influenza (bottom) viruses are seen in this composite image. (credit: Wikimedia Commons)Flurona: The novel coronavirus (top) and influenza (bottom) viruses are seen in this composite image. (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Flu vaccines come early

The flu vaccination campaign for the winter of 2022-2023 is opening earlier than usual this year. From this coming Wednesday, it will already be possible to schedule an appointment for vaccination on all platforms.

“We are entering winter at a time when the incidence of the coronavirus is low, but there is still a fear of another wave,” said Ruth Baruch, director of Clalit’s vaccination campaign and head of the nursing department in the community division.

“That is why it is important to get vaccinated against the flu – to avoid cross-infection, so we will be protected with an effective vaccine that significantly reduces illness and severe morbidity.”

The vaccines will be given in general clinics all over the nation, and in both women’s health centers and children’s health centers.