On Friday, the Health Ministry announced that the Director-General, Prof. Nachman Ash, had given his approval for administering the novel coronavirus booster shot to the citizens of the State of Israel aged over 40. This decision was made soon after the advisory panel of the health experts gave this recommendation to the government on Thursday evening.
Even before the ministry announced its decision, various health clinics across the country had taken to announcing that they were opening applications for the relevant age group to make their appointments for the third shot. It had been widely expected that Ash would sign off on the recommendation of the health experts. Previously, the shot was available to all those aged 50 and above.
Teachers, pregnant women, staff in welfare programs and nursing homes, healthcare workers, prison guards, prisoners, are now eligible for the vaccine, irrelevant of their age. At-risk groups, as well as diabetic and overweight individuals, were also granted permission to get the jab. However, only people who received the second dose of their coronavirus vaccine at least five months ago are eligible for the booster shot.
Israel is the only country in the world right now to be offering a third dose of the coronavirus vaccine to such a broad chunk of its population. This is the country’s way of battling with the highly infectious variant of the deadly disease, the Delta variant.
The Prime Minister of the country, Naftali Bennett, who is 49 years old did not wait for approval from Ash. He went ahead with receiving the booster shot early on Friday morning, as announced by his office.
Soon after, he addressed the vaccination campaign, encouraging everyone meeting the criteria, which has been determined by the advisory panel, to get vaccinated at the earliest. He urged them to take responsibility for not just their own, but the livelihoods and health of other people. According to the Prime Minister, it is time to be serious and not gamble with life.
In light of the program, more than 1 million citizens aged over 50 have been vaccinated with the third shot. This also includes healthcare workers and immunocompromised people in the country.
Some health clinics have been reported to have begun the vaccinations overnight, even before Ash gave approval for the age group. Several of these organizations were administering the jab to people aged 40 to 49 without an appointment.
The expert panel has also been considering the expansion of the coverage of booster shots to all the citizens who have had two doses of the vaccine, irrespective of their age. However, the proposal was rejected. According to sources, Ash is against the expansion of the jab to the entire cohort of Israelis, who have been vaccinated.
There has been considerable speculation regarding the significant expansion of the booster shot campaign, given that health officials in the US recently announced that they would be administering a third dose to citizens aged 18 years and above. This will start from 20th September onwards.