Israel’s prime minister announced Thursday that the country will provide a booster dose of the coronavirus to people over 60 who have already been vaccinated.
Naftali Bennett’s announcement makes Israel, which launched one of the world’s most successful vaccination campaigns early this year, the first country to provide a third dose of a Western vaccine to its citizens on a large scale.
“I am announcing this evening the start of the campaign to receive the booster vaccine, the third vaccine,” Bennett said in a nationally televised address.
“Reality proves that vaccines are safe. The reality also proves that vaccines protect against severe illness and death. Like the flu vaccine that needs to be renewed from time to time, it is the same in this case.”
The decision comes at a time of increasing infections and signs that the effectiveness of the vaccine is waning over time.
The third footage is available to the public on Sunday
Anyone over 60 who was vaccinated more than five months ago will be eligible.
Bennett said the country’s president, Isaac Herzog, would be the first to receive a booster dose on Friday. It will be presented to the general public on Sunday.
Bennett, 49, said his first call after the press conference would be to his mother to encourage her to get a booster shot.
Neither the United States nor the European Union has approved coronavirus booster doses. It has not been proven whether a third dose helps, and if so, who needs one and when.
But Bennett said a team of expert advisors overwhelmingly agreed, by a margin of 56-1, that it made sense to launch a boosting campaign.
He said the recommendation was made after “a great deal of research and analysis” and that information would be shared around the world. Initial studies in Israel indicated a low level of vaccine protection against serious diseases among those vaccinated in January.
Israel used the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine on its population. Previously, boosters were used in some countries with Chinese and Russian vaccines.
Roughly 6 out of 10 have 2 shots
Early this year, Israel carried out one of the world’s most aggressive and successful vaccination campaigns, striking an agreement with Pfizer to purchase enough vaccines for its residents in exchange for sharing its data with the drug manufacturer.
More than 57% of the country’s 9.3 million citizens have received two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and more than 80% of the population over the age of 40 has been vaccinated.
The vaccination program allowed Israel to reopen its economy before other countries.
But there are signs that the effectiveness of the vaccine is waning over time, and Israel has seen a sharp rise in cases of the new delta variant, even among vaccinated people.
But Israel has seen a rise in cases of the new delta variant, even among vaccinated people. Bennett urged unvaccinated Israelis, especially reluctant youth, to get vaccinated immediately.