Virus Czar Says COVID-19 Tests for Kids may Stop Being Free2 min read
On Wednesday, Salman Zarka, the national coronavirus czar said that the Health Ministry would have a discussion about possibly putting an end to the free COVID-19 tests for children who are not vaccinated against the virus. This is because a vaccination campaign for kids between the age of 5 and 11 is expected to be introduced in the next month. The aim of the move is to encourage parents to get children belonging to that age group vaccinated rather than relying on the free coronavirus tests in order to access different venues. They are able to get a temporary Green Pass, which is the document given to those who have recovered from COVID-19 or are vaccinated.
This gives them access to a number of public events and places, which include museums and restaurants. However, a temporary Green Pass is only valid for 72 hours and can be obtained via a negative PCR test. The individual has to pay for the test unless they are not eligible for vaccination like children below the age of 12. Zarka said that they really wanted kids to get vaccinated, so they can also be issued a permanent Green Pass. He said that they would have a discussion about whether they would be permitted to take free tests once they are eligible for vaccination.
According to officials of Israel’s Health Ministry, they could give approval for the children-size doses of the coronavirus vaccine for kids between the ages of 5 and 11 from mid-November, after the US regulators gave their approval for the shots. An advisory panel for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States unanimously voted on Tuesday with a single abstention that the benefits of the vaccine in preventing coronavirus in children outweigh any risks. Nachman Ash, the Director-General of the Health Ministry, said that he was going to encourage the vaccination of children in schools.
Ash said that children over 12 have been vaccinated on school premises by the authorities in recent months and it has proven to be a success. Therefore, they were going to continue with it and also said that it will still be possible for children to get vaccinated at one of the local vaccination stations or HMO, as per their preference. He said that the principle was that people should get vaccinated when vaccinations are available. Full-strength shots of the Pfizer vaccine have already been approved in Israel for everyone aged 12 and above.
Likewise, parents and pediatricians are waiting for vaccines to be approved for younger children to ensure uninterrupted schooling and no quarantine. The dosage for children below the age of 12 is expected to be one-third of the dosage for adults. Some Israelis have deliberately infected their children with the virus because of the belief that they experience milder symptoms, as this prevents the need for vaccination. However, health officials have warned that these can have dangerous consequences, as children continue to suffer from problems due to ‘long COVID’, even after recovering from the disease.