In a bid to widen vaccine coverage amid a surge in cases, Israel has rolled out the offer of a third Covid booster shot to people over 50, as well as other members of society and workers from certain sectors.
On Friday, Israel’s Health Ministry widened the list of people eligible for a third Pfizer vaccine to include members of the population who are over 50, healthcare workers, the immunocompromised, prisoners, and wardens.
The decision comes after a health panel advised extending the booster scheme to a younger age bracket and other sections of society. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Thursday implored over-50s to “Get out and get inoculated. This is about saving lives. It’s in our hands.”
Israel began distributing third doses of Pfizer’s Covid vaccine to people over 60 two weeks ago. The nation was one of the first worldwide to offer Covid booster shots before recommendations from the European Medicines Agency and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with the latter authorizing a third vaccine for people with weakened immune systems on Thursday.
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The Ministry of Health’s decision to offer booster shots was made amid concerns over waning vaccine efficacy, alongside a surge in cases of the Delta variant – a highly contagious mutant strain of the novel coronavirus.
Serious illness has also skyrocketed among the unvaccinated, while only a slight increase has been observed in the partially and fully inoculated populations, prompting the urgency to increase vaccination protection.
Since rolling out the booster shot to over-60s, over 775,000 third shots have been administered in Israel, equating to just over 8% of the population.
According to government statistics, almost 63% of the population is partially inoculated, while over 58% of Israelis have received two doses of a coronavirus vaccine.
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