As of November 8th, the Medical Corps began vaccinating soldiers in high risk groups.

Date: 09/11/2009, 1:42 PM     Author: Sapphire Itskovich

A campaign for swine flu vaccinations in the IDF (Zahal) officially begins Sunday (November 8th), initially focusing on high risk groups. As part of the campaign, twenty military vaccination facilities will be setup all around the Israel. “In this rigorous campaign, we’ve arranged vaccinations for thousands,” said the head of the Military Health Branch, Lt. Col. Dr. Omer Ankol, “In fact we’ve already identified, through our database, the names of soldiers in the high risk group.”

Dr. Ankol explained that the soldiers will be addressed by their medical clinic base, inviting them to get the vaccine at one of the IDF (Zahal) vaccination facilities. Soldiers belonging to the high risk groups are patients with chronic diseases, all medical staff and those who have a baby at home that is less than six months old.

As part of the vaccination campaign, important information on the swine flu will be addressed to all of the IDF (Zahal). Nevertheless, Dr. Ankol stresses that soldiers who fears they might belong to a high risk group can check at the clinic at their base. “The vaccination campaign,” explains Dr. Ankol, “is complex, since the vaccination is being carried out at the same time as the seasonal changes, and the need to reach a very selective population with the optimal use of the limited vaccine supply.”

In the meanwhile, until the full quantity of the vaccine, called Focetria, will be issued to the IDF (Zahal), the vaccination procedure will take place gradually. “The current allocation received by the IDF (Zahal) is sufficient to distribute to those belonging to the risk group, but early next month we are expected to get additional supply,” said Dr. Ankol and added that “later on, the intention is to vaccinate the rest of the IDF (Zahal) soldiers, in accordance to priority. The policy is consistent with the national policy to vaccinate all the citizens of the country.”

The Military Health Branch has not been waiting around to receive the vaccine, and has been working on this campaign for several months to formulate the optimal response to the IDF (Zahal) population. Recently, the branch distributed informational materials on prevention of the swine flu, in order to raise awareness on the importance of personal hygiene, as well as, distributing hand antiseptics to participants of the IDF (Zahal) officers championship games held last month.