'17% of serious COVID-19 patients received one vaccine dose'

Health Ministry: People 50-54 can now get the jab

Israel inoculates its two millionth citizen with a coronavirus vaccine. (photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel inoculates its two millionth citizen with a coronavirus vaccine.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The first dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine does not provide complete protection, Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis made clear on Tuesday during a briefing. She said that 17% of Israel’s seriously ill patients had been inoculated.
Her announcement came on the same day that Israel celebrated the vaccination of Etty Shemesh, an educator from Ashdod. She was vaccinated at a Leumit clinic in her hometown in the presence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein.
“We can win” against the coronavirus, said Netanyahu, but to win, the public has to “come and get vaccinated.”
On Tuesday, one day after the country expanded its coronavirus vaccination campaign to people over the age of 55, the Health Ministry announced that beginning Wednesday, Israelis 50-54 will also be able to get the jab.
To make an appointment, people should contact their health funds, the ministry said.
The expansion of the circle of people who can be vaccinated was made possible due to the delivery of some 700,000 new vaccine doses that arrived in Israel on Monday.
More are scheduled to come next week, and according to Netanyahu, hundreds of thousands should arrive each week until around five million Israelis will be inoculated twice by the end of March.
In addition, the health funds have committed to increasing the number of people who can be vaccinated to as many as 200,000 a day.
“On Sunday, we witnessed another wave: this time not of disease, but the second wave of vaccines arriving every week,” Edelstein said Tuesday. “There is no shortage of vaccines in Israel.”
THE VACCINATION of educational staff also began on Tuesday, but not without frustrations. There was a delay in transferring the names of educators who wanted to be vaccinated from the ministries to the health funds due to what was described as bureaucracy.
Senior officials in the Health Ministry said that “after dragging their feet and a prolonged and unnecessary delay on the part of the education minister, the Health Ministry received the list of teaching staff that could be vaccinated.”
The list was then transferred to the appropriate health funds so that appointments could be made.
“While the health minister is busy bringing in vaccines, along with the prime minister, and running the best vaccination campaign in the world, the education minister has taken care to put his feet up in endless bureaucracy, just to try to show control,” the officials reportedly said.
Nonetheless, Edelstein was all smiles on Tuesday as Shemesh was inoculated.
“We are very happy that today they [teachers] are starting to get vaccinated,” he said. “This is important both in protecting the educational staff and in preventing quarantines that have burdened the education system.”
So far, 71,054 teachers and other education staff have registered to be vaccinated, the Education Ministry reported Tuesday, representing almost a third (30%) of teaching and education staff in Israel. Some 29,200 teachers and other education staff reported that they had already been vaccinated or had recovered from the coronavirus. Another 5,399 are not interested in getting vaccinated.
More than 16,000 more people had been vaccinated with their first doses between midnight and press time on Tuesday, the Health Ministry reported.  In total, 1,871,288 have been inoculated, the ministry said.
The vaccination campaign was able to continue without delay thanks to a deal that Netanyahu made with Pfizer. Part of the agreement is that Israel will share data with the company to help it understand the effectiveness of the vaccines on morbidity.
During her briefing Tuesday, Alroy-Preis reiterated that none of the data that will be shared is private information.
“We will publish the entire agreement in full and transparently,” she noted. “The information transmitted to Pfizer is general and talks about the number of patients hospitalized per week, deaths, not even about side effects or background diseases – only about the disease state in Israel.”
Later, a committee that was formed by the Health Ministry to evaluate the safety, effectiveness and side effects of the vaccine released its first report. Of the 1,700,000 people who were vaccinated at the time, the majority (60%) were over the age of 60. In total, almost three-fourths (around 73%) of the over-60 population have been injected.
LOOKING AT vaccination by age: 2% of people between the ages of 16-19 were vaccinated; 6% between 20-29; 11% between 30-39; 20% between 40-49; 34% between 50-59; 63% between 60-69; 81% between 70-79; and 76% of people over the age of 80.
The report reflected the high number of people infected with the coronavirus post-vaccination but noted that “it is important to clarify that these are morbidity data among those vaccinated with the first dose only and therefore no conclusions can be drawn.”
Some 4.6% of people inoculated were diagnosed with coronavirus within seven days of getting jabbed, 6.4% after 8-14 days and 3.8% after 15 days or more.
In addition, 375 people were hospitalized after vaccination: 244 within 1-7 days, 124 between 8-14 days and only seven people after 15 days.
It added that “As time goes on, after two weeks, the number of positive cases of coronavirus among those vaccinated decreases.”
The professional team recommended that people continue to social distance and wear masks even after inoculation.
And what about side effects?
Women report more side effects than men, according to the report, especially women between the ages of 30 and 60. There were almost no side effects reported by those between the ages of 70-80.
The majority of side effects were general, mild and at the site of injection, though there were 68 neurological and 52 allergic reactions reported. Only around 20 people reported more serious complications, including those that required medical follow up.