Rate of Israelis getting flu shots drops significantly during war, say HMOs

Renee Ghert-Zand is the health reporter and a feature writer for The Times of Israel.

A woman gets her flu vaccine shot on September 5, 2023. (Clalit)
A woman gets her flu vaccine shot on September 5, 2023. (Clalit)

Israel’s four health maintenance organizations report a sharp drop in the number of people getting vaccinated against the flu as compared to last year. While the country’s flu shot campaign got off to an early and positive start in September, the response rate decreased significantly with the start of the war on October 7.

The HMOs are reporting decreases of 20-30 percent as compared to fall 2022. The Leumit HMO reports that only 10% of its members have received flu shots so far this year.

Israel’s HMOs and hospitals require the public’s cooperation in reducing severe illnesses that would require hospitalization at this time when they are already dealing with the mass casualty event of October 7 and are preparing for more war injuries, they say.

The healthcare system emphasizes the importance of the flu vaccine for babies, children, pregnant women, the immunocompromised, and people over 65. It is also encouraging people to consider getting the latest COVID-19 booster shot.

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