In order to counter the accusations made against it for making decisions in an opaque manner, the public was permitted to listen to the Health Ministry’s debate regarding the approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for kids belonging to the 5 to 11 age group. The debate went on for five hours, but a final decision has not been taken as yet and will be announced next week. They chose to live-stream the debate for ensuring transparency and a few pre-approved members of the public were also allowed to ask questions in real-time. This discussion came only a few days after the vaccine was authorized in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
This paved the way for the country to begin vaccinating children between 5 and 11 years of age. It is widely expected that the Israeli Health Ministry would adopt the same path and give approval for the vaccines. However, they have decided to take every step in a transparent manner as much as possible because they want to ease the fear of most parents and convince them into getting their kids vaccinated. The ombudsman of the Health Ministry, Dr. Boaz Lev, said that a final decision would be taken about the vaccine early in the next week.
He also said that they would decide in the coming days if the final hearing would be made public or not. Ahead of the hearing on Thursday, some of the health officials had had some concerns regarding the meeting’s open nature and they were fearful that they wouldn’t be able to speak openly. However, the ministry decided to move ahead with it because they wanted to combat any misinformation regarding the kids’ vaccine. The head of public health, Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, stated during the hearing that young people had been affected in higher proportion by the recent wave of the coronavirus, as opposed to previous ones.
She also disclosed that approximately 136 children had been ailing from pediatric inflammatory multi-system syndrome (PIMS). In addition, the data she presented indicated that children who are vaccinated between the ages of 12 and 15 have more protection against contracting the virus and they are also protected against symptomatic infection 20 times more than those who are not vaccinated. Michael Stein, the Health Ministry, expert noted that 393 kids had been admitted into hospitals in serious condition and 11 of them had succumbed to the virus.
The Health Ministry also provided data about the 163 children who had been granted special permission for vaccination between the ages of 5 and 11 and were closely monitored. Four of these kids tested positive after a week, while one tested positive three weeks later. There were minor side effect, such as pain and body weakness, experienced by four kids only and one had suffered a seizure eight days after the second shot, but there wasn’t any neurological damage. Alroy-Preis reassured people that no parents would be forced to vaccinate their kids by the Health Ministry and they would be able to make a decision themselves.