As long as eligible people received the second injection more than five months ago, they can receive the booster injection.
The Israeli Prime Minister announced on Thursday that Israel will begin to provide a third dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to people over 60 years of age who have already been vaccinated, becoming the first country to provide its citizens with a third booster dose.
Naftali Bennett said in a national televised speech: “I am announcing the start of the booster vaccine tonight, which is the third vaccine.”
“The reality proves that the vaccine is safe. The reality also proves that the vaccine can prevent serious morbidity and death. Just like the flu vaccine needs to be updated from time to time, it is also true in this case.”
According to Channel 13 TV and Kan Public Radio, eligible people can receive the booster injection as long as they received the second injection more than five months ago.
Israel is the world leader in vaccination, and many elderly people are vaccinated in December, January and February because they are considered the most vulnerable part of the population.
Approximately 57% of Israel’s 9.3 million people have been vaccinated.
After Palestinians living under varying degrees of Israeli control in the West Bank and Gaza Strip were denied vaccination for launching one of the fastest vaccination campaigns in the world, the country was accused of vaccinating apartheid.
Increase in cases
However, since the emergence of the Delta variant, the Ministry of Health has twice reported that the vaccine’s anti-infective efficacy has decreased, and its protective effect against serious diseases has slightly decreased.
About 160 people were hospitalized with severe symptoms, and the number of daily infections has soared from a few months ago to more than 2,000.
It is expected that the boosting activities that will be officially announced soon will effectively turn Israel into a testing ground for the third dose of the vaccine before it can be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
On July 11, the government began to provide a third dose of vaccine to adults with weakened immune systems.
Health Minister Nizan Horowitz (Nitzan Horowitz) said: “As of now, we are giving the third injection to immunodeficiency patients.”
Pfizer said on Wednesday that it believes that people need additional doses to maintain a high level of protection against the coronavirus. The company stated that it could apply for an emergency US authorization for booster injections as early as August.
According to media reports, after Israeli experts approved the campaign late on Wednesday, the head of the Israeli Ministry of Health approved the health maintenance organization for the third injection.
Last week, the Ministry of Health estimated that the vaccine was only 41% effective in preventing symptomatic infections in the past month. The protection rate against serious diseases is still as high as 91%.
Some experts criticized the ministry’s analysis because of the possible biases that could distort the data. Others said that Israel should wait a little longer to get more information about the safety and effectiveness of the third bullet.
The Cabinet hopes that vaccines can avoid costly lockdowns by protecting those most vulnerable to serious diseases, even if the infection rate rises.
According to data provided by Johns Hopkins University, since the beginning of the pandemic, Israel has registered 6,463 deaths and 868,045 confirmed cases.