Israelis 16 and up eligible for COVID vaccine; Netanyahu urges inoculation for all over 50

February 4, 2021 by JNS
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The Israeli Health Ministry on Wednesday announced that beginning today, COVID-19 vaccines would be available to all Israelis over the age of 16.

A COVID-19 vaccination center in Hod Hasharon, Israel, Feb. 2, 2021. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.

As of Wednesday morning, 3,237,163 people in Israel had received the first dose of Pfizer’s BioNTech vaccine and 1,855,785 had received two doses, according to Health Ministry data. However, despite the country’s aggressive vaccination campaign, which has been conducted during its third full lockdown since the crisis began in March, morbidity has dropped troublingly slowly, with 9.3 per cent of the coronavirus tests conducted on Tuesday returning positive results.

According to Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, the main culprit is the so-called U.K. variant of the COVID-19 virus, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday said constituted 80 per cent of all new confirmed infections, up from 70 per cent just days ago.

At a joint press conference with Edelstein on Tuesday, Netanyahu said that Israel was in a race between the vaccination campaign and the virus variant, and said that prioritizing for inoculation those over the age of 50 will be key to successfully exiting the lockdown.

“Ninety-seven per cent of those who have died are in the 50-and-over age group. Almost 100 per cent of the deceased are there,” he said. Ninety-three per cent of serious cases of infection fall in this group, as well, he added.

He thus proposed as a “national goal” vaccinating at least 90 per cent of those in this age group within a two-week span, noting that this was achievable, as 77 per cent of them have already been vaccinated. He vowed to present the proposal, along with a lockdown exit plan, to the Cabinet.

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