IDF to join flu shot effort in campaign to avoid hospital overcrowding - Gantz

Some 900 IDF medics who are already administering COVID shots will begin to vaccinate for the flu as well, in order to prevent hospitals from becoming overcrowded.

 Defense Minister Benny Gantz at the Jerusalem Post Annual Conference, October 12, 2021 (photo credit: AVRAHAM SASSONI)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz at the Jerusalem Post Annual Conference, October 12, 2021
(photo credit: AVRAHAM SASSONI)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz (Blue and White) will propose enabling IDF medics who are assisting the COVID vaccination effort to assist in the flu vaccination effort as well, at the government meeting on Sunday. Gantz's initiative is part of a larger campaign by the Health Ministry to increase the number of people receiving a flu shot, in order to reduce the hospital workload over the winter.

"The entire defense system and the IDF will continue assisting in all of the national efforts to reduce COVID and safeguard Israel's economy and social fabric," Gantz said. "In any place where the IDF's operational capabilities can provide solutions, the IDF will be there for the citizens of Israel with complete cooperation with the health system in general and at all specific institutes."

The decision would mean that some 900 IDF paramedics currently stationed at HMOs will be asked to assist in both inoculation efforts simultaneously.

Seasonal influenza is expected to reach exceptionally high levels this year, health officials said as the annual flu vaccination campaign was launched earlier this month.

The virus is expected to arrive as early as November, posing a risk to the country’s health system which is already struggling under the burden of some 400 severely ill COVID-19 patients.

 Health worker prepares a Covid-19 vaccine at a temporary Clalit health care center in Jerusalem, September 30, 2021.  (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) Health worker prepares a Covid-19 vaccine at a temporary Clalit health care center in Jerusalem, September 30, 2021. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Flu (influenza) is one of the most common and highly infectious winter viruses. Similar to coronavirus, it is transmitted from person to person mainly by droplets exhaled when people cough, sneeze or even talk.