Israel has taken possession of 300,000 doses of swine flu vaccination and will begin inoculating high risk groups in the coming days. By the end of November, Israel hopes to have given the vaccine to at least 1 million people.
Those receiving the vaccine first include premature babies and their immediate family members, all babies up to six months of age, patients with chronic illnesses and medical staff. Israeli authorities also plan to target Israeli Muslims for vaccination before they head off at the end of the month for the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, where they will come in close contact with millions of people from around the world.
The vaccination is not mandatory in Israel, though health officials hope to convince a large portion of the population to receive it. Some critics, however, insist that swine flu is only marginally worse than the "regular" flu, and that in some cases the vaccination itself could pose a greater threat than the illness.
Thirty-five Israelis have died from complications related to the swine flu over the past year, and their deaths have been used to create dramatic headlines. But it has been noted that up to 1,000 Israelis die every year from flu-related complications, making the swine flu deaths a mere drop in the bucket.
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