Israel going with a 4th vaccine dose
In Israel, people over 60 and medical workers will receive fourth vaccine doses.
Israel is at the beginning of a fifth wave of infections.
By Patrick Kingsley
Published Dec. 21, 2021
JERUSALEM — Israel, which late last year was an early trailblazer in its efforts to administer a first coronavirus vaccine dose to its citizens, now plans to offer fourth doses in a bid to curb the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, officials said on Tuesday.
It is believed to be the first country to offer a fourth round of doses. And as with its earlier inoculation efforts, countries around the world will be looking to Israel for clues about how their own campaigns might fare.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett hailed the move as “wonderful news that will assist us in getting through the Omicron wave that is engulfing the world.” He added, “The state of Israel is continuing to stand at the forefront of the global effort to deal with the pandemic.”
At least one person in the country is confirmed to have died from the Omicron variant — an older man who had received two vaccine doses but not a third one, health officials said on Tuesday.
The United States has also reported at least one death from the variant. Health officials in Texas said that an unvaccinated Houston-area man who died on Monday had Omicron. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in October that some adults with compromised immune systems would be eligible for a fourth shot of the vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech.
Source: Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. The daily average is calculated with data that was reported in the last seven days.
Israel was one of the first nations to return its society to a semblance of normality after rolling out a first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine far faster than most other countries.
Mr. Bennett, who succeeded Benjamin Netanyahu in June, was then among the first world leaders to approve third vaccine doses this summer. He also allowed for the vaccination of children aged 5 and up last month, and held a “war game” in which the government tested out possible state responses to a hypothetical new virus variant.
On Tuesday, he said that medical teams would begin giving fourth vaccine doses to people over 60 and to medical workers.
His other efforts to slow the rise of Omicron have included enforcing more stringent entry requirements for incoming travelers, banning the entry of all foreigners without a special exemption and barring Israelis from traveling without special permission to 58 countries, including the United States, Canada and Britain.
The number of Omicron cases in Israel doubled on Tuesday to 340, the health ministry said, while the total number of coronavirus cases rose to 1,306 — the highest daily figure in nearly two months, though still proportionally lower than in many developed countries.
Mr. Bennett has said that Israel is at the beginning of a fifth virus wave, and has called on people in the country to vaccinate themselves and their children, to work from home and to increase their wearing of masks.
Patrick Kingsley is the Jerusalem bureau chief, covering Israel and the occupied territories. He has reported from more than 40 countries, written two books and previously covered migration and the Middle East for The Guardian. @PatrickKingsley