The Health Ministry has given the greenlight to Israeli clinics to begin administering the new coronavirus vaccines that are tailored to variants later this week.
On Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the Health Ministry said that healthcare providers would soon receive the updated Pfizer vaccines.
She also said that clinics would be permitted to give them to patients when they arrive. She added that most would begin administering them from the next week, but some could start out sooner as well.
The new vaccines would be given as the third, fourth or the fifth dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Since the vaccines have not been tested for younger ages, they are only available for those over 12 for now.
However, it was not made immediately clear if the new shots were currently only available for the at-risk and elderly, or would be given to everyone.
The new vaccines by Pfizer have been customized to the Omicron variant, but are also capable of holding up against other new variants.
They are being rolled out in Israel over concerns about increasing cases of COVID-19 and worries that the combination of flu and coronavirus would result in a tough winter for the country.
A lethargic response
When the original vaccines had been rolled out, there had been long queues of people who wanted to get the shot.
But, this time around, a sharp contrast is expected, which means that the response is likely going to be lethargic.
Clalit HMO’s head of family medicine in Jerusalem, Prof. Amnon Lahad said that he believed only a few people would get the shot.
A professor at the Hebrew University, Lahad said that other countries also had seen a muted response to the new vaccines, such as the United States.
He said that the same was expected in Israel because people feel quite safe after getting three to four shots.
He added that even though the government was claiming that more vaccines are worth it, people are now skeptical. Plus, people have also gotten tired of getting vaccinated.
The Health Ministry
Healthcare providers have been told by the Health Ministry to give priority to those 65 and above when administering the new shot and to younger people who are at risk because of their medical background.
They have also asked to prioritize health service employees and those who care for the elderly. Some other groups were also recommended by the ministry for vaccination.
These include pregnant women, teachers in kindergartens and schools and prison guards and prisoners. However, clinics are still dealing with some confusion despite the guidelines.
The vaccines will be made immediately available to those over 12, but it is not clear if they will initially be distributed only to those in priority groups, or whether immediate universal distribution is acceptable.
A lot of health experts have asserted that the new vaccines can offer better protection, particularly to those who are vulnerable.
While it may not reduce infection, it can definitely offer better protection against the virus.