Israel kicks off third-shot COVID campaign
Israel inaugurated its booster shot campaign for people over the age of 60 who were vaccinated more than five months ago on Friday.
The first shots were given at Maccabi Health Services in Ramat Hasharon, Clalit Health Services in Netanya and at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, where President Isaac Herzog got the shot.
“Here in one of the leading medical centers in the world, one of the 10 best medical centers in the world, Sheba hospital, we are beginning the booster vaccination, which is so vital to enable normal circumstances of life, as much as possible, in this very challenging pandemic that humanity is faced with,” the president said. “This step is very important for the solidarity of the Israeli people.”
Herzog looked forward to another few weeks, when schools are expected to open and the High Holidays will start shortly thereafter, and stressed how vaccinating the elderly is key to keeping life running according to routine.
“We have to protect each other and take the necessary steps and make sure we can all function as normal and ordinary states and societies,” the president concluded.
Herzog was vaccinated by Sheba nurse Lina Ahmad. His wife, Michal, was also inoculated, along with Sheba medical personnel who qualified for the dose.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett also spoke at the event, addressing the foreign press and leaders, as he termed the battle against COVID a “global fight.”
The only way we can beat the pandemic is together,” Bennett said. “Together means sharing information. Together means sharing methods, technology, insights and actionable steps. Israel is open to sharing all the information that we can gain from this bold move and we are going to win, but together.”
He said, “From this day forward we have a new mitzvah: ‘Vaccinate your father and mother to prolong their lives.’”
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, were also expected to get vaccinated at Sheba at around 12:30 p.m.
Earlier in the day, Yafit and Eli Shapira became the first Israelis citizens to receive the third shot. They were inoculated by their daughter-in-law, nurse Moran Shapira, at a health center in Hod Hasharon.
At Clalit, the first to get vaccinated were Raphael Yefet, 73, and his wife Yael, 72, from Kfar Netter. They were vaccinated at a Netanya health center.
“We all have a responsibility to make every effort to stop the spread of the disease,” said Dr. Dudi Mosinzon, the vice president of medicine for Meuhedet Health Services, who was also vaccinated on Friday. “It was important for me to set a personal example and be one of the first to get vaccinated with the first dose. However, unfortunately, there are a million people who have not been vaccinated even with the first dose.
“The vaccine is safe and effective,” he continued. “It will allow us to defeat this disease. Pandemics are won with vaccines. I call on anyone who has not yet been vaccinated to do so as soon as possible.”
Vaccine appointments are available through all four health funds, which have said they will be offering extended hours to enable anyone who qualifies and wants a third dose to be able to get vaccinated.
The Health Ministry voted last week to give a third dose to people over 60 after reviewing data prepared by Sheba Medical Center that showed antibodies were waning in older people who had been inoculated five and six months prior. Elderly people are more prone to developing serious cases of COVID-19.
Israel has seen a surge of infection in recent weeks due to the Delta variant, which accounts for more than 90% of cases in the country.
For several days in a row, Israel recorded more than 2,000 daily cases. Around 165 people are in serious condition and the number has been rising nearly each day.
So far, almost 5.8 million Israelis have received at least one dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. More than 90% of people over the age of 60 have already received two shots.