Saturday 9/18/21
PANDEMIC

Israel to offer third coronavirus vaccine jab to those aged 60 and up

To help spotlight the new campaign, Israeli President Isaac Herzog will get his third dose on Friday morning
HANDOUT - 25 July 2021, Israel, Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks during the weekly Israeli cabinet meeting. Photo: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO/dpa - ATTENTION: editorial use only and only if the credit mentioned above is referenced in full
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks during the weekly Israeli cabinet meeting. Photo: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO/dpa.

Israel will soon become the first country to offer a wide slice of its population a third dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced on Thursday that, within days, anyone age 60 and up and who had received a second vaccine dose at least five months ago could begin receiving their booster.

"The decision was based on considerable research and analysis, as well as the rise in risk of the Delta variant wave," Bennett said in an address.

To help spotlight the new campaign, Bennett said 60-year-old Israeli President Isaac Herzog will get his third dose on Friday morning.

Israel has already given 2,000 immunosuppressed people a third dose with no adverse effects reported, Bennett said, bolstering the belief of health experts that the country should start "rolling out a national third dose campaign."

The decision comes as infections are rising amid evidence that the effectiveness of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination has declined significantly since the beginning of June.

According to the Health Ministry, the vaccination is now preventing 39% of infections and 91% of severe illnesses.

Back in the spring, the ministry data showed the vaccination prevented 95.8% of infections. Hospitalization, serious illness and death were prevented by about 99% of the time.

Doubts

However, there have doubts raised by the government's own experts about the methods by which the infection data is being collected.

Still, there is no question the situation has grown more serious. The number of new coronavirus infections reported in Israel within one day has exceeded the 2,000 mark for three days in a row.

More than 57% of the population is fully vaccinated. Israel has almost completely relied on the Pfizer/BioNTech jab.

Meanwhile, the so-called Green Pass has been in force again in Israel since Thursday.

At gatherings of more than 100 people, participants older than 12 years of age must show a certificate proving they have been vaccinated against or recovered from Covid-19 or a negative coronavirus test result.

This applies to sporting and cultural events as well as gyms, restaurants, conferences and houses of worship, among others.

The Green Pass, which brought relief for the vaccinated and recovered, had been introduced in Israel in February. However, after a significant drop in the number of infections, most of the restrictions had been lifted again.

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