Israel began administering Covid-19 vaccines to teens on Saturday as it continued its vaccination urge, with 30 percent of the population now receiving the first dose, health officials said.
More than 2.5 million of Israel’s nine million residents have been vaccinated since the introduction of vaccinations a month ago, the health ministry said Friday.
Expanding the campaign to include teens came days after Israel extended its third national coronavirus blockade Tuesday to the end of the month due to an increase in coronavirus infections.
The Ministry of Health announced on Thursday that it would allow the vaccinations of high school students aged 16-18, subject to parental consent.
Or, an 18-year-old teenager receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine at Clalit Health Services, in the Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv in Israel, Jan. 23.
The country’s largest health fund, Clalit, was already giving teen photos Saturday morning, the website said, while the three smaller funds would start their campaign later.
Israel began administering vaccines on Dec. 20, starting with health workers and moving quickly to the elderly, sick and at-risk groups, continuously lowering the minimum age of those entitled to the injection.
From Saturday, people aged 40 and older may also receive the vaccine.
According to the Ministry of Health, as of Friday, nearly 2.5 million people had received the first of two doses, 900,000 of which also received the second.
Israel has given at least one dose of the vaccine to 38.8 per 100 people in the country, well ahead of other countries, with some people already receiving the second.
In comparison, the UK gave 8.9 first doses per 100 people, the US 5.8 and France only 1.4.
Israel is currently leading the global vaccination drive, with nearly 39 percent of its citizens having had at least a single dose of a shot so far. In comparison, the UK gave 8.9 first doses per 100 people, the US 5.8 and France only 1.4
The country has secured a huge stockpile of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine and has pledged to share impact data with the US-German manufacturer soon.
On Thursday, the estimated COVID-19 reproduction rate in Israel fell below 1 for the first time since the country’s vaccination campaign fell below 1, the government announced.
An ‘R’ number above 1 indicates that infections will grow exponentially, while below 1 indicates their eventual shutdown.
Israel’s ‘R’ number reached 1.3 on December 11. It started the following week with the vaccination of civilians. With the increasing contamination, it imposed a third national lockdown on December 27 – which is still in effect.
‘Do we see the light? We see a crack in the blinds, ”Deputy Health Minister Yoav Kisch told Channel 13 TV after Israel registered an ‘R’ number of 0.99. “We stopped, but we stopped when morbidity was high.”
A health worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine at Clalit Health Services, in the Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv, Israel, on Jan. 23.
He mentioned the lockdown and the vaccines – now administered to more than a quarter of Israel’s 9 million residents – but added that vaccines had “ mainly reduced severe morbidity, not necessarily the number of carriers. ”
The decline would have been greater had it not been for the particularly contagious British variant of the coronavirus, Kisch said.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the rapid vaccination campaign will “allow us to overcome the coronavirus, get out, open the economy and make life routine again.”
But while Israel is currently in charge of global vaccination, infection and death rates, as well as the number of people in hospital, show little sign of a decline.
On Wednesday, the country recorded the highest number of Covid-19 cases and deaths in one day, with 10,213 cases and 101 deaths – the first time Israel has seen more than 10,000 cases and 100 deaths since the pandemic began.
On Thursday, of the 82,930 active cases, 1,918 were hospitalized. Last week, the number of hospital admissions was just over 1,000.
On Friday, the UK’s chief scientific advisor Sir Patrick Vallance said it was too early to draw any conclusions from Israel’s vaccination program after alarms that hospital admissions have not yet fallen.
To address the seeming failure of the needle-stick regime in reducing infection rates, Israel’s top coronavirus doctor said on Wednesday that the Pfizer vaccine was less effective than expected.
Real-world data from Israel’s global rollout showed that the first dose resulted in a 33 percent reduction in coronavirus cases between 14 and 21 days after that in people who received the shot.
The figure is lower than the UK regulator’s estimate, who said it could prevent 89 percent of recipients from developing Covid-19 symptoms.
Dr. Nachman Ash, Israel’s top coronavirus doctor, said on Wednesday Pfizer vaccine was less effective than expected
Sir Patrick Vallance said on Friday it was too early to draw conclusions from Israel’s vaccination program after alarm that hospital admissions have not yet fallen
But Sir Patrick, the UK’s chief scientific adviser, told the Downing Street press conference on Friday that the Israeli data was “very preliminary.”
He said, “As for the Israeli data, I think that was information from one of the organizations that organizes health in Israel, I think there are four, and it was preliminary data that came out on the numbers.
‘I think the Israeli Ministry of Health has said they are not quite sure that this is the final data and they expect the effects to increase, so I think it is very preliminary.
‘This is preliminary information from a subgroup of people who haven’t followed people long enough.
“We had a meeting with Israeli advisers yesterday and they expect to get more information in the coming weeks.
“And I think we’ll have to keep a very close eye on this, we’ll have to keep looking at data and understanding the real-world performance of vaccines.”
Dr. Nachman Ash, one of the medics who led the Covid-19 response in Israel, had told local Army Radio media earlier this week, “A lot of people got infected between the first and second injections of the vaccine.”
It can take 10 days or more for immunity to kick in.