Nachman Ash, the director-general of the Health Ministry, has given the final nod to administer the coronavirus vaccine in Israel to children below the age of 5. However, he did not immediately recommend the vaccine to parents of kids who are at high risk.
On Friday, Ash had written a letter, which was made public on Tuesday, in which he had approved of giving the shots of Pfizer or Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine to children between six months and five years. However, this decision had fallen short of last’s week recommendation from a health advisory panel.
58% of the ministry’s advisory panel had said that the vaccine should be recommended for babies and toddlers who are at high risk, along with anyone included in that age group. According to Ash, he had gone over all the relevant materials and had also talked to professionals before making his decision.
Shots to be purchased
Health officials in the United States had approved the vaccine for the same age group several weeks ago. Now that Israel has done the same, they would have to buy the doses of the COVID-19 vaccine that are especially developed for this particular age group. The arrival of the doses in Israel would determine when they would be rolled out.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been used the most Israel and its dosage for children is 1/10th of that of adults. It is administered in three shots, with a three week gap between the first two doses and the third one administered after two months.
Albert Boula, the CEO of Pfizer, had supported the decision of the FDA and stated that he would give the vaccine to his own kids, if he had any.
However, data indicates that interest in COVID-19 vaccines for this age group will be low in the country. This is because there has been low interest for the vaccine for the 5 to 11 age group as well. Statistics show that 18% of kids in this age group had gotten two doses and one dose has been administered to 25%.
Anti-vaxxers have been carried out protests outside schools where kids were being vaccinated and had even threatened public officials, as they are against giving the vaccine to children. Moshe Feiglin, a former MK of the Likud party, is also an anti-vaxxer.
This week, he announced that he would run in the upcoming primary elections of the party. Speaking about the COVID-19 vaccine, he had asserted that those below the age of 30 should avoid it like fire. His comments had gotten a scathing response from the Health Ministry, as they had called it ‘nonsense’ and dismissed the MK as someone with no understanding about the issue.
Last week, an Israeli study had disclosed that the risk of COVID-19 infection was halved in children between the age of 5 and 11 back in winter.
Meanwhile, cases of the coronavirus are once more on the rise in Israel, just as school is over and summer vacations have begun.