Coronavirus in Israel: First 5–11-year-olds get vaccinated

Thousands of Israeli parents have already booked an appointment to jab their children with coronavirus vaccines.

 Vaccination (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

Eleven-year-olds Guy, Noam, Lyad and Lyad’s little brother, eight-year-old Matan, were among the very first children aged 5-11 to be vaccinated in Israel on Monday.

“I expected it to sting more and that it would affect me more,” said Guy after receiving the jab at a Clalit Health Services clinic in Kfar Saba. “Get vaccinated if you do not want to get to the fifth wave.”

While the campaign was officially set to begin on Tuesday, some clinics started to offer the inoculation a day earlier, after the vaccines were delivered between Sunday and Monday morning.

According to Clalit, 350 children had already been vaccinated at their facilities by Monday night.

“This is a happy day for children and for parents who can protect their children,” coronavirus commissioner Prof. Salman Zarka said in a press briefing. He stressed that while it is true that in most cases COVID-19 is a mild disease for the young, the inoculation will still protect children from the serious symptoms that sometimes they can develop and in addition allow them to avoid quarantine if they are exposed to a verified case.

 Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the coronavirus cabinet meeting, October 5, 2021. (credit: ALEX KOLOMOISKY / POOL, ALEX KOLOMOISKY/FLASH90) Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the coronavirus cabinet meeting, October 5, 2021. (credit: ALEX KOLOMOISKY / POOL, ALEX KOLOMOISKY/FLASH90)

Over 10,000 parents have already booked an appointment for their children.

As with adults, the vaccination procedure for children will include two jabs approximately three weeks apart.

Israel has some 1.23 million children in that age group, out of a population of 9.3 million people. A little over 200,000 children who became ill have recovered from the disease.

In its next meeting, the committee advising the Health Ministry on matters related to the vaccines will discuss whether to recommend that recovered children receive one shot, as in the case of older individuals, Zarka said.

He invited parents to make a decision about whether to inoculate their children based on reliable information, adding that some three million children in the United States have already been jabbed.

Government and health officials hope that vaccinating them will halt what appears to be a new – albeit so far slight – rise in cases.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has been warning Israel of a possible coronavirus “children’s wave” and asked parents to take their children to get vaccinated.

As of Monday, Israel had some 5,400 active cases; on Sunday, there were 5,200. At the peak of the fourth wave in the beginning of September, they were over 80,000.

In the past month, about a third of the new cases identified have been among children ages 0 to 9 and another 27% among 10- to 19-years-olds.

On Friday, for the first time in two months, the coronavirus “R” reproduction rate climbed above 1, and as of Monday it rose further to 1.04.

The R rate represents how many people each virus carrier can infect on average and shows what the situation was 10 days earlier.

When the R stands above 1, the disease is considered to be spreading because every case generates more than one other case. When it is below 1, it is a sign that the number of cases is declining.

Some 452 new virus carriers were identified on Sunday, a number similar to that of previous weekdays. Fewer cases are usually reported on Sundays because fewer people go to get tested on Saturdays.

In addition, the decrease in the number of serious patients has been stalling for the first time since September. As of Monday, there were just 131 such patients, up from 127 on Saturday.

The coronavirus cabinet is set to meet on Tuesday to discuss the situation.