On Saturday morning, Israel received the first shipment of the child-sized doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine, as the campaign for vaccinating children between the 5 to 11 age group is scheduled to begin from Tuesday. The shipment comprises of about a million doses that were sent from Leipzig in Germany and arrived in Israel at the Ben Gurion Airport. The vaccines are to be taken to the central distribution point in Israel, which is the city of Modiin. It will be dispatched from there to vaccination centers all over the country, as the campaign for vaccinating children is scheduled to kick off from Tuesday.
The vaccine shipment had been scheduled to land last week in Israel, but there had been a delay. Similar to the vaccine administered to people 12 and above, the child-sized vaccine will also be administered in two doses. On Sunday, a meeting is scheduled for health officials to discuss the gap that should be given between the two doses. In addition, they will also come up with vaccine recommendations for kids who have made a recovery from COVID-19. The children’s shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are one-third of the adult doses. Their packaging is also different in order to prevent any mix-ups.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stated on Friday that they would practice ‘total transparency’ where the matter of inoculating kids is concerned. Bennett said that he was aware of the sensitivity of the issue. He said that many parents were afraid of vaccinating their kids, even though they don’t believe in conspiracy theories or are anti-vaxxers. The premier said that they would share the scientific information with the parents to help them make a decision. He added that he would also get his younger son vaccinated. Israel is already giving two vaccination doses and a third booster shot to anyone who is 12 or above in the country.
The vaccine had received approval in Israel only a few days after the same happened in the United States. Around 2.6 million kids in the US have already received the shot, which means that about 10% of children have gotten their first dose. Meanwhile, Friday saw the reproduction rate, known as the R-number, climb to 1 in Israel, which indicates that the coronavirus is spreading once more, even as there is a fall in serious cases. This number is used for measuring the new cases that result from every infection.
A number over 1 shows that the outbreak is falling, while above 1 indicates a spreading infection. On Friday, health officials also warned that if COVID-19 cases continue to increase, they would have to impose fresh restrictions. Since 6th September, the R-number has remained below 1, but there has been an increase in recent days, pushing it past the 1 mark on Friday. However, serious cases and hospitalizations are falling, as the active cases in Israel on Friday stood at 5,215 with 173 patients in the hospital. Of these 126 patients were in serious condition and those on ventilators were 87.