On Monday, the Israeli government began allowing anyone over the age of 60, as well as healthcare personnel who had not received a booster injection in at least four months, the opportunity to acquire a fourth shot of the vaccine.
As the Omicron variety raises infection rates worldwide, this project places Israel at the forefront of aggressive immunization strategies.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said, “We’ve been first in the world [with the] booster shots and that policy has protected Israel’s citizens well.” He added that Israel’s death rate was the lowest globally at the end of the year, 50 times lower than the United Kingdom, 100 times lower than Germany, and 130 times lower than the United States.
Israel is already witnessing more than 5,000 new cases per day, with the number expected to rise to 20,000 by the end of the week and 50,000 by the end of the week.
However, the mortality toll has not risen to the same level, increasing expectations that the new type is less lethal, matching Bennett’s assessment of the second booster, which he described as essentially an attempt to avert significant disease in the elderly.
According to Israel’s Health Ministry, over 60% of the country’s 9.4 million people are fully immunized, practically all with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which implies they’ve had three doses or have recently got a second shot.
However, hundreds of thousands of patients are eligible for a third vaccination yet to be administered.
Bennett also advised Israelis to wear masks in crowded places, particularly inside, and avoid crowds altogether.
Salman Zarka, the chairman of the health ministry’s coronavirus task group, said herd immunity is far from assured, given that some COVID-19 patients had recovered and subsequently been re-infected in the past two years.