Hospitals overflowing with flu victims [pg. 5]

The failure of many high-risk people - with chronic diseases and weak immune systems - to get vaccinated against influenza has resulted in high infection rates and overflowing internal medicine and pediatric wards in many of the country's hospitals. The Health Ministry, which keeps a daily account of the departments, noted that the average occupancy rates in general hospital internal medicine departments, which treat most patients with complications of the flu, is 118 percent, with 98% occupancy in pediatric wards. As a result of the crowding, some patients attached to respirators are not in intensive care units, which have more staff, better equipment and more expertise than regular departments. In addition, the overflow has led to crowded wards and some patients being kept in corridors. The highest internal medicine department occupancy on Tuesday was Tel Aviv Medical Center at 300%, and the highest pediatric ward occupancy was Hadassah University Medical Center on Jerusalem's Mount Scopus with 162%. The ministry said that while people should have been vaccinated by the end of December, they could still benefit by getting the shot before the end of this month. It takes about three weeks for immunity to the flu to build up after the vaccination.