The vaccination rate against influenza in Israel is so far 83.3% higher than in the corresponding period last year and significantly higher than in the previous two years. This emerges from a report on the monitoring of seasonal influenza and pneumonia published by the Center for Disease Control at the Ministry of Health, and its data are correct for the week ended December 5.
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According to the report, from the start of the current flu vaccination season in October to the first weekend of December 2020, the immunization rate has reached 22.1% compared to 12.1% in the same period at the end of 2019, as well as compared to 16% in 2018 and 17.1% in 2017 .
Among those aged 65 and over, the vaccination rate this year is 65.6%, compared with only 43.9% in the corresponding period at the end of 2019, and 52.2% and 55.7%, respectively, in 2018 and 2017.
Immunization against influenza in the HMOs among chronic patients under the age of 65 is higher this year compared to the same period last year – 33.8% this year compared to 21% in 2019, and also high compared to 2018 (29.5%), but slightly lower compared to 2017 (34.9%).
Even among those aged six months to 59 years, the vaccination rate this year is higher than in previous years: 19.4% this year, compared with 9.1% in the corresponding period in 2019, or 14.3% in 2018 and 16.6% in 2017.
The report noted that respiratory morbidity rates in the current period are low as well as the rate of referrals to community clinics due to lower respiratory morbidity compared to previous years.
Just regarding pneumonia, the report noted that there is a certain increase in referrals to community physicians among 19-year-olds and older, but it is still significantly lower than expected for the season. and above.
The high immunization rate has consequences for the fact that the incidence of influenza in Israel so far is lower than in the previous three years and is reflected in a decrease in inquiries to community clinics and hospitals due to respiratory illness and pneumonia. It is estimated that the guidelines related to the corona epidemic contributed to this: wearing a mask, social alienation, reduction in gatherings and also excessive adherence to hygiene such as hand washing and more frequent use of disinfectants.
It should be noted that even according to WHO data, this year the incidence of low global flu is noticeable compared to previous years. This trend was previously diagnosed in the southern hemisphere and now also in other parts of the world that are dealing with the corona plague and are taking steps to prevent double morbidity (“florona” – flu and corona). The dominant sub-strain of the virus this season is A / H3N2.
However, fears have not disappeared in the HMOs and hospitals that in the coming weeks, as the weather becomes colder, rainier and stormier, in the peak months of this winter, the rate of referrals with respiratory diseases will rise and along with coronary heart disease that is now on the rise again. So far the predictions and horror scenarios that highlighted heavy loads on the hospitals and were presented in the summer months ahead of what is expected in the winter, have not come true.
The flu vaccination campaign provided in the community clinics continues now and will be conducted in parallel with the corona vaccine campaign. Influenza vaccines are now available to anyone interested in getting vaccinated after the health system stocked up on double the amount of influenza vaccines this year compared to last year – over four million doses.
In contrast to previous years, the vaccination campaign was held in a gradual manner this year – the elderly and people in risk groups first, and then the vaccination was opened to the general public. This is against the background of a gradual supply process of vaccines due to global demand. However, for several weeks now, flu vaccines have been available at the box office for anyone who wants to get vaccinated.