On Thursday, Nachman Ash, the Director-General of the Health Ministry, said that they were not going to impose any sanctions on children whose parents decide against vaccinating them against COVID-19, after Israel gave the greenlight to vaccinate kids of the age group 5 to 11 with the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine. Ash said that they wanted the parents to make the best decision for their kids. He added that vaccination could undoubtedly make life more comfortable, but they didn’t want to force anyone to make a decision because of economic considerations. Hence, they would continue to offer the coronavirus tests to these kids for free.
Health officials in Israel had been considering the possibility of no longer offering the COVID-19 tests for kids 5 to 11 free of cost if they are not vaccinated. The aim of the move would have been to encourage parents to vaccinate their children belonging to this age group, rather than depending on the free tests available in order to get access to public venues. According to Ash, they would launch the campaign for inoculation later in the month, as Pfizer was doing the final inspection of the kid-size doses. He added that it didn’t seem like a good idea to wait for the morbidity to rise because they didn’t know when it would happen and it takes time for the vaccines to take effect.
He went on to disclose that 200 children were still getting infected with the coronavirus every day and they wanted to prevent that from happening. The Health Ministry had announced the decision to administer doses of the vaccine to children via a press conference scheduled for Wednesday. A government panel comprising of medical experts had a 73 out of 75 vote in favor of inoculating kids in a secret ballot. The approval in Israel came a few days after the same vaccine had received the green light in the United States and they had begun their own campaign for inoculating children between 5 and 11.
Ash was also asked if children who have recovered from the virus would also need to be inoculated. He said they were still thinking about it and it would have to be discussed further. He said that they didn’t want to vaccinate the kids if it wasn’t necessary, but he also said that he didn’t want to give children the false impression that they were protected when they are not. For now, the number of new cases as well as serious ones have plunged in Israel as the current wave is coming to its end.
On Wednesday, the total number of new cases in Israel were 489, which is a major reduction from 5,000 to 6,000 cases that were recorded daily back in September. The total number of patients in hospitals was around 146 and the death toll since the pandemic’s beginning was 8,136. More than 6.2 million people in Israel have received one dose of the vaccine, 5.7 million have gotten two doses and the booster shot was given to 4 million people.