The Health Ministry ordered a halt of all flu vaccinations across the country after three people died on Sunday, days after being injected with the same flu vaccine.
The Ministry said an investigation has been launched.
The victims, aged 52, 70, and 72, were vaccinated at a Kiryat Gat health maintenance organization, where they have been receiving the same vaccine for three years. They also suffered unnamed health problems.
A number of doctors in the Ashkelon area were contacted over the incident and the vaccine's manufacturer has been notified, the Health Ministry said.
Dr. Michael Gdalvich of the Health Ministry arrived at the Kiryat Gat clinic to investigate the deaths.
Health Minister: No link between vaccine, death
Flu vaccines world wide are produced by two major manufacturers Novartis and Chiron. The Health Ministry tests all imported vaccines before being approved for sale in Israel.
Health Minister Yacov Ben Yizri said Sunday evening that "more than 140,000 have been injected with a flu vaccination in the State of Israel, and the only place where this incident happened, in which three people died, a very rare incident, was in one HMO."
The minister explained that his office had launched an inquiry into the matter "and at the moment we are talking about three people who suffered from diseases. So far no connection has been found between this disaster and the flu vaccinations."
Ben Yizri clarified, however, that until the issue is "completely clarified" with the vaccination manufacturers, the flu vaccinations will not be resumed.
Later, during a press conference, Health Ministry Director-General Yitzhak Berlovitch reported of a fourth incident in which a patient died after being injected with a flu vaccination.
The influenza epidemic
Every year millions of people get infected with the disease; however, less than one percent of them, on average, die from it. The disease is most devastating on babies, the elderly, pregnant women and chronic patients, as well as those with a weakened immune system such as people who have cancer or suffer from malnutrition.
Since the flue is a viral disease, there is no reliable treatment for the disease. The only recommended treatment is the use of drugs to alleviate the symptoms of the disease such as pain and fever medication, anti cough medicine, combined with rest and increased hydration.
In extreme cases, the disease can be treated with an anti-viral medication, but those are seldom used because of their side affects they cause, their questionable effectiveness, and their high price. However, the efforts to develop a cure for the flue are ongoing, and over the past few years there has been some progress in that field.
An influenza expert told Ynet that there is no debate about deaths caused by the flue vaccine. There is also a report from 1976 of a group of patients which suffered from partial paralysis due to the vaccine.
Tova Dadon contributed to the report