COVID vaccinations for ages 5-11 expected to begin in November

The dose to be given to the children will be three times lower than the one for adults, which is why a different supply of vaccine is required.

 Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at a cabinet meeting, October 24, 2021.  (photo credit: CHAIM TZACH/GPO)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at a cabinet meeting, October 24, 2021.
(photo credit: CHAIM TZACH/GPO)

A shipment of Pfizer COVID vaccines for children ages 5-11 is expected to arrive in Israel in two to four weeks. Soon after, the country will start inoculating the cohort, according to reports in Israeli media.

The dose to be given to the children will be three times lower than the one for adults, which is why a different supply of vaccine is required.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz and several senior health officials met late on Wednesday to discuss the logistics to initiate the vaccination campaign, the day after a US expert panel voted overwhelmingly to recommend that the Food and Drug Administration authorized the Pfizer vaccine for the group, saying the benefits of the shot outweigh the risks.

Israel has a population of 9.3 million, about 7.3 million of whom are over the age of 12 and therefore eligible for the inoculation.

As of Wednesday, 6.2 million Israelis had received at least one dose of vaccine, 5.7 million at least two, and 3.9 million have already received a booster.

 Medical staff receive their third COVID-19 vaccine shot at Meir Medical Center in Kefar Sava, August 13, 2021. (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90) Medical staff receive their third COVID-19 vaccine shot at Meir Medical Center in Kefar Sava, August 13, 2021. (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)

The possibility to inoculate the five-11 cohort – about 1.27 million children – is set to give a significant contribution in reaching a very high coverage and potentially herd immunity, preventing the virus from further circulating – at least as long as the efficacy of the vaccine lasts or a new vaccine-resistant variant emerges.

Health officials have repeatedly reassured the public that the process to authorize the shot in Israel will be conducted in a fully transparent manner with the full amount of time needed to examine all the relevant data independently.

A meeting of the 60-member Health Ministry Vaccination Advisory Committee, which will make the final decision on children’s eligibility for the vaccine, is expected to take place toward the end of next week.

In the meantime, morbidity in Israel continued to decrease.

Some 727 new cases were identified on Tuesday, with 0.85% of the 91,000 tested resulting positive. A week earlier, there were 1,147 cases; two weeks earlier there were 1,817.

The number of serious patients also continued to decrease, dropping to 237. A month earlier it stood at 662.

As of Wednesday, the country had less than 11,000 active cases. At the peak of the fourth wave in September, there were over 80,000.

In light of the encouraging data, Bennett announced that the limit of 5,000 people for outdoor gatherings will be abolished.

Starting Friday, all outdoor gatherings operating under the Green Pass system will not have any cap on participants.