Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday ordered health authorities to buy up swine flu vaccine for the country's entire 7.5 million population, his office said.
The decision came at the end of a meeting with top health officials to discuss measures to tackle the A(H1N1) virus that has so far killed one person and infected thousands in Israel.
The prime minister's office put the likely cost of the vaccine stock-up at some 450 million shekels (115 million dollars), reports AFP.
The ministry's professional staff have recommended buying the vaccine, but noted that it may not be authorized for use before winter.
Professor Gabi Barabash, head of the Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv, said he was skeptical an effective vaccine against swine flu will be produced soon. He recommended that the public be vaccinated against common influenza ahead of wintertime, "In order to reduce morbidity rates and ease the pressure on hospitals."
According to Barabash, up-to-date medical research makes it clear that "an effective, proven and safe vaccine will not be ready before the coming winter. It seems we will have to go through winter without one," informs Ynetnews.
According to ISRIA, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Deputy Health Minister Litzman agreed to increase the State's supply of anti-influenza medicines by an additional 5% even though the State currently has more medicines in stock than the European average.
The Prime Minister said: "This decision places Israel in line with the leading countries of the world on the issue of future supplies of influenza vaccines. On this context, it is important to emphasize that H1N1 vaccines are still undergoing development and are not yet 'on the shelf'. The vaccines will be delivered to various countries, including Israel, only after the conclusion of development, in a few months."