Israel's health services said Thursday they will offer flu shots to the general public from next week, having previously limited the vaccine to elderly and at-risk populations.
The health maintenance organizations began the flu vaccination campaign in late September but the shots were only administered to specific sectors of the public, such as over 65s and those with underlying health conditions at higher risk of catching the virus.
The limitations were a result of lower-than-usual number of vaccinations readily available to the public due to constraints on their production related to the global coronavirus pandemic.
The first to announce the vaccination campaign for the general public was Maccabi Healthcare Services, which was shortly followed by other HMOs, including Clalit, Meuhedet and Leumit
The Health Ministry has not made an official announcement, nor did it elaborate on the amount of doses, out of the 4.2 million ordered, that had already been delivered.
"Maccabi broke the rules and issued the announcement without permission [from the Health Ministry] and so we did as well," said an official at one of the HMOs.
So far, over 650,000 Clalit customers have been vaccinated, 370,000 Maccabi customers, 180,000 received the shots through Meuhedet and about 85,000 through Leumit.
"We hope that due to the coronavirus restrictions, we will see lower influenza infection this year in Israel, but we must not be complacent," said Maccabi's Director of Nursing Dr. Angela Urbani.
"Those in at-risk populations should be vaccinated as quickly as possiblein order to protect themselves."