Before winter, Israel prepares for a combined wave of flu and COVID-19

Before winter, Israel prepares for a combined wave of flu and COVID-19

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Israeli health officials are sounding the alarm, predicting a potentially dangerous winter with combined waves of COVID-19 and the flu.

Sharon Alroy-Preis, director of public health services at the Ministry of Health, explained Thursday that the best weapon remains vaccination against the two viruses.

“There are forecasts that there will be a wave of COVID-19 in the month of October and November in Israel,” he told Army Radio. “The combination of COVID and the flu can be problematic. And we’re preparing for that in terms of vaccines, two vaccines that can be given together. »

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He added that flu shots for this year are expected to arrive sometime in September.

An unnamed Israeli health official told the Kan public broadcaster on Thursday that Israel was examining the possibility of buying coronavirus vaccines designed specifically to target the new variants. He added that giving the COVID and flu shots at the same time could only affect high-risk Israelis and, more broadly, Israelis over the age of 60.

While the COVID vaccination campaign has slowed dramatically in Israel, hundreds of people continue to come daily for vaccinations. On Tuesday, 186 Israelis received a fourth dose of the vaccine; 83 received a third dose, 84 the second and 81 the first. At the end of July, this figure was close to 750 vaccinations per day.

Director of Public Health at the Ministry of Health, Sharon Alroy-Preis, during a meeting of the Health Committee in Jerusalem on February 7, 2022. (Noam Moskowitz/Knesset)

In total, more than 72% of Israelis have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. 66% received a second dose, 48% three doses, and the fourth dose was administered to only 9% of the population.

Alroy-Preis said that health officials are constantly monitoring the situation around the world and especially in parts of the world where winter has already arrived.

“One of the tools we have to prepare for the winter season is to look at the other half of the world, and what we’re seeing there is not reassuring,” he explained, noting a large wave of influenza and COVID-19 in Australia that led to a high rate of hospitalizations.

Alroy-Preis said that COVID rates are currently low in Israel.

“We have been saying for some time that COVID is here and that we have to live with ups and downs in infections and rule adjustments depending on the situation,” he commented.

There were 18,335 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Thursday morning in Israel. Currently, 583 people are hospitalized and 199 of them are in serious condition. Last week, 18 people with COVID succumbed to the disease, raising the death toll from coronavirus since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country to 11,524 people.

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