Israel expanding vaccination teachers, people 55+ beginning Tuesday

The country is leading the world when it comes to vaccinations, according to the most recent report by Our World Data.

Sheba Medical staff members receive the second round of the COVID-19 vaccine, at the Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, January 10, 2021 (photo credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)
Sheba Medical staff members receive the second round of the COVID-19 vaccine, at the Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, January 10, 2021
(photo credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)
People between the ages of 55 and 59 can begin getting vaccinated on Tuesday, the Health Ministry said Monday. Although nearly two million Israelis have been inoculated, the rate of infection continues to climb.
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.
“The health funds should be contacted to schedule an appointment,” the Health Ministry said.
Teachers also will be able to get their vaccinations on Tuesday.
According to the Education Ministry, nearly 17,500 teachers and staff registered to get vaccinated in the first 24 hours that the campaign was open.
The data also shows that 17,106 teaching staff reported that they had already been vaccinated or recovered from the virus – 78% of them (13,271) over the age of 60 and the rest under that age.
To receive a vaccination, teaching staff must present a recent pay slip. The Health Ministry clarified that they would be summoned by their health funds to receive the shot.
When the ministry announced that younger people should call to make appointments, social media was filled with complaints by many people between the ages of 55 and 59 who said the health funds were not set up to take their calls.
However, there seemed to have been a disconnect between the hotlines and their health funds’ headquarters more than between the Health Ministry and the health funds, as more than one health fund told The Jerusalem Post they had been informed of the change before a statement was sent by the ministry to the media.
Moreover, there is one constituency that has been prioritized by the Health Ministry but has not yet received the vaccine: Israel’s older prisoners.
Defense Minister and acting Justice Minister Benny Gantz sent an urgent appeal to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, urging him to instruct Public Security Minister Amir Ohana to enable the vaccination of seniors in prison facilities, as per the guidelines laid out by the Health Ministry and the Attorney-General’s Office.
“It is alarming that the public security minister is choosing to ignore the guidelines outlined by the Health Ministry and the attorney-general while doing damage to public health,” Gantz wrote. “Beyond being illegal, this move is also impeding national efforts to battle the coronavirus.”
IN TOTAL, Israel has vaccinated 1,870,652, the Health Ministry reported Tuesday morning, and many more were likely inoculated throughout the day. It was reported that by the end of the month, some 1.8 million Israelis will have received both doses of the vaccine and 1.3 million their first dose.
The goal remains to reach around five million Israelis vaccinated with both doses by the end of March, which would mean that the Health Ministry would need to jab between 170,000 and 200,000 people per day.
The country is leading the world when it comes to vaccinations, according to the most recent report by Our World Data.
“This is the moment to thank those who have really been at the forefront in the past year,” Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said. “The years 2020-2021 are the years of the angels in white.”
“For a whole year now, you have been there for the citizens of Israel, day and night, on Saturdays and holidays, giving your whole being to a harsh and cruel reality,” he said. “Now, we begin to see the light.”
In addition to the Pfizer vaccine, some 480,000 doses of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine are expected to arrive in Israel this week, N12 reported Monday. Moderna has contacted a shipping company to arrange the delivery, the report said.
Israel received 120,000 doses last week from Moderna, which is expected to deliver a steady flow until the country receives the six million doses it ordered by sometime in March. Last week, Netanyahu said the first doses of Moderna vaccine would be earmarked for people who are homebound.
HOWEVER, DESPITE all the excitement around vaccination, the percentage of people testing positive for the novel coronavirus remains high.
On Monday evening, the Health Ministry reported 6,897 new cases, with 7.2% of those screened having a positive result.
The number of serious cases stood at 1,065 – a record high for the country since the start of the crisis. Some 262 people were intubated, which appears to also be the highest number since the start of the pandemic. Moreover, the death toll hit 3,695.
Still, top health experts are saying they expect the number of serious cases to at least start subsiding as more elderly and high-risk Israelis receive their second dose of the coronavirus vaccine.
“We are seeing the first signs of stabilization,” Prof. Ran Balicer told KAN News on Monday morning. “In a week and a half, it will be easier to make decisions about what to do next.”
Balicer serves as chairman of the government’s National Expert Advisory Panel.
His words reflected those said Sunday by coronavirus commissioner Prof. Nachman Ash, who told reporters in an afternoon briefing: “There is room for optimism. The graph does not show exponential growth and is beginning to flatten.”
Health advisers are expected to present Netanyahu on Tuesday with initial plans for opening up the country once again.
Israel should start seeing the effects of vaccination within the next three weeks, Orly Greenfeld of the Magen Israel program told reporters Monday. People who receive their two doses of the vaccine can already get a vaccination certificate within a week of getting the second dose, which relieves them of entering isolation if they are near a sick person or are returning from abroad, she said.
The green passport program is also expected to be rolled out, but there is still discussion about what will be included and when such it will be available in actuality.
Whichever way Israel opens, it will be in stages despite the vaccination campaign, Greenfeld said.