Vaccine Panel Advises Annual COVID Shots for Israelis3 min read
The vaccine committee of the Health Ministry has recommended that COVID shots should be administered annually if the rate of coronavirus infection falls to low levels.
While this recommendation has not become policy as yet, it does not take long for them to be implemented swiftly.
As of now, adults are required to take boosters more frequently and this is expected to remain the same, as long as there is still a high number of global infections.
Prof. Nadav Davidovitch, an epidemiologist at the Ben Gurion University, said that if this position is adopted, then the policy for the coronavirus shot would become similar to that of flu vaccines.
The epidemiologist was formerly a member of the vaccine committee due to which he is aware of the discussion.
He said that the whole population would be recommended to get a booster every fall and emphasis will be given to those at risk and the elderly.
The COVID vaccine shots would be tailored to the particular strain of the virus that has a higher chance of spreading, similar to flu shots.
However, it remained unclear if a single shot, or two, would be administered as part of the annual regimen.
This position is similar to what the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States has already proposed.
A member of the Israeli Association of Public Health Physicians, Davidovitch said that the new approach would only be implemented in the future at a time when infection rates are low.
He said that the approach would be part of their strategy of dealing with the coronavirus as the new normal.
He added that it was apparent that COVID was here to stay and similar to other viral infections, this policy makes sense because there is a vaccine, but its effects wane over time.
However, there are some senior doctors who are not in agreement with this recommendation, including Prof. Amnon Lahad, who is the head of a board that advises the Health Ministry.
The board is named the National Council for Health and he said that he believes the recommendation unnecessary and would result in resource wastage.
He said that he believes the decision is wrong because it is unnecessary for most people. He said that the annual vaccine makes sense for the elderly who are suffering from other diseases.
But, he added that it would be immensely costly and unnecessary for 90% of the population. Lahad also serves at the Hebrew University as chair of family medicine.
He said that it is not necessary to administer annual vaccines because their primary purpose is to reduce the severity of illness and not stop the transmission, or infection.
He stated that it makes for a less-compelling case for regular vaccinations for the population.
In the US, the FDA had published a roadmap for vaccination in the future this week, which included an annual shot for most people, but two for those with a compromised immune system and older adults.