On Monday, the Health Ministry in Israel announced that the meeting on Wednesday of the health experts’ advisory panel for deciding whether to approve COVID-19 vaccines for children between the ages of 5 and 11 will not be open to the public. As per reports, most of the health experts on the panel want to conduct the meeting behind closed doors and don’t want to let the public view the proceedings. A decision will be made by the experts this week about whether to give approval for the coronavirus vaccines for children. The ministry said that they had considered the pros and cons of holding the meeting publicly and privately.
This included the ability of having an open and free dialogue regarding such a crucial and sensitive matter in the midst of the backdrop of violent discourse that could have an impact on the course of meeting. Last week, the ministry had broadcasted the deliberations about approving the vaccine for children, as it wanted to push back the criticisms regarding opaque decision-making. The public was permitted by the Health Ministry to listen to the five-hour long discussion for boosting transparency efforts and some members of the public were also permitted to ask questions in real time.
This discussion came only days after the Food and Drug Administration in the United States had given authorization for the vaccine to be used for kids of this age group and the country had begun immunizing the kids. It is widely expected that the Israeli Health Ministry will also follow the FDA’s lead and will give approval for the vaccine for children. Ahead of Wednesday’s hearing, some health officials have expressed their concerns about the meeting’s open nature, as they were afraid that they would not be able to openly express their opinions. However, the ministry had decided to move ahead with it because they did not want to spread any more misinformation about the vaccines.
The head of public health of the Health Ministry, Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis stated in the last meeting that young people had been highly affected in the fourth wave of the coronavirus, as they were unvaccinated. She also disclosed that pediatric inflammatory multi-system syndrome (PIMS) was diagnosed in 136 children. Furthermore, the data she presented also indicated that vaccinated kids between the age of 12 and 15 are more protected than against getting the disease and 20 times more protected against symptoms as opposed to those kids who haven’t been vaccinated.
She also told the viewers that parents would not be forced to vaccinate their kids. Alroy-Preis said that they were providing statistics that parents can use for making a decision about whether to vaccinate their children or not. A representative of Pfizer said that they were considering increasing the time period between the first and the second weeks to longer than three weeks. The representative also informed the health officials that children who had received the vaccine during their trial had not suffered from any heart condition. As per the Health Ministry, the vaccination campaign could begin in Israel from mid-November.