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Close to 2,000 hospitalized with flu in Israel, says Health Ministry

Ministry urges public to get vaccinated amid fears of ‘twindemic’ from COVID and influenza, notes anyone older than 6 months can receive shot

Medical staff at the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital wear safety gear as they work in the hospital's newly reopened COVID ward in Jerusalem on December 27, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Medical staff at the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital wear safety gear as they work in the hospital's newly reopened COVID ward in Jerusalem on December 27, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The Health Ministry said Wednesday that it had charted a worrying rise in flu cases, which had all but dissipated last winter amid a pre-vaccine wave of COVID-19.

The ministry said 1,849 Israelis were currently hospitalized with the flu, including 605 children and 124 pregnant women and new mothers.

New cases were continuing to rise among both the young and old, the ministry added.

It urged Israelis to get vaccinated against the flu, noting the inoculation being distributed this year protects against the flu strain currently spreading throughout the country. The ministry said anyone over six months old should get the vaccine and noted those eligible for a COVID-19 shot can do so at the same time.

“The flu virus can cause serious illness, such as pneumonia, other respiratory complications, myocarditis and even death,” a Health Ministry statement said.

Health officials have warned of a so-called “twindemic,” with hospitals overwhelmed by simultaneous waves of flu and COVID-19 patients. Last winter those fears were not realized when COVID restrictions largely stamped out flu cases. However, this year has proven different.

Last week, A 31-year-old pregnant woman died in Jerusalem after contracting the flu.

The woman, who was not named, was nine months pregnant when she fell ill two weeks ago.

After she was hospitalized at the Hadassah Medical Center, the woman’s son was born by Caesarian section. The child was said to be healthy.

Immediately after the surgery, the woman was put on a ventilator due to respiratory complications, but her condition deteriorated further and the medical team was unable to save her life.

According to Channel 13 news, in a separate case, an eight-year-old girl from the center of the country remains on a ventilator at the Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba after also contracting flu.

The report said the girl suffered from a fever and sore throat for two days before she began to have difficulty breathing. Family members were forced to perform CPR on the girl before she was transported to hospital for treatment.

Earlier this month, six-year-old Yosef Naim from Netivot died when he did not wake up after going to sleep with a fever. Health experts believe he was stricken with myocarditis — an inflammation of the heart — from flu complications.

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