A report by the Israel Center for Disease Control showed that the 2019-2020 flu season is worse than the previous years'.
The overall death rate in Israel is low, and stands at approximately average, the report showed, as is the percentage of deaths from pneumonia.
Since the beginning of the winter, 17 Israelis have died of influenza. The most recent victim was a one-year-old baby from Jerusalem. Hospitals around Israel are caring for flu patients, 167 of whom were still hospitalized on Friday.
Forty-four of the hospitalized flu patients (26%) are children under the age of 16, most of whom suffered preexisting conditions prior to contracting flu.
Of the 17 Israelis who died of flu, only one was vaccinated. Of the 167 Israelis currently hospitalized in serious condition due to flu complications, only five received the vaccination. Seven of those in serious condition are pregnant women. In comparison, at this point in the season during the previous three years, no pregnant women were hospitalized in serious condition due to flu complications.
The wave of influenza-caused deaths has prompted Israelis to rush to receive the vaccination, leading to a shortage. More vaccines are expected to arrive later this week.
So far, 1,965,000, or 22% of the population, has received the flu vaccine, compared to 18% last year. Among the elderly, the vaccination rate stands at 58%, while the percentage of babies and children under 5 years of age who received the "flu shot" stands at just 22%, similar to that of the general population.
Last month, ICDC statistics showed that the vast majority of flu cases were caused by H1N1, also known as "swine flu." Swine flu is included in this year's flu vaccine.