The Pandemic Response Team and the Advisory Committee on Vaccines – both supporting the Health Ministry in the fight against COVID – approved vaccination for children ages 5-11 on Wednesday night.
Some 73 experts out of 75 voted in favor of the approval.
In addition, 67 experts voted in favor of recommending the vaccination, and six in favor of only allowing it.
Regarding children in that age group who recovered from COVID, 34 members of the panel said that the vaccine should be recommended but depending on how much time has elapsed since the child’s recovery, 23 said it should be recommended regardless of it and eight said that it should not be recommended.
In light of the different opinions, panel member Dr. Tal Brosh, head of Infectious Disease Unit at the Samson Assuta Ashdod University Hospital, said that the Health Ministry will likely postpone a final decision about the issue until further discussion, noting that establishing a vaccination policy for recovered individuals took a longer time also for older age groups.
Presented with the question of whether to wait until another wave hits the country before starting the campaign, 64 members of the panel voted against and eight voted in favor.
“We do not know when a new wave might begin, if children are vaccinated they will be protected,” Prof. Eli Somekh, head of the Pediatric Wing at the Ma’aynei Hayeshua Medical Center in Bnei Brak said.
A first meeting on vaccinating this cohort was held last week and streamed live to present all the relevant data, but the Health Ministry decided to hold the new session behind closed doors to protect the experts from the incitement that has targeted many health officials and physicians who speak in favor of inoculation against COVID.
“The information was presented during the open session,” said chairman of the panel Dr. Boaz Lev. “We entered the meeting tonight to discuss them with an open heart.”
Lev said that keeping the meeting behind closed doors was important also for the quality of the discussion and to allow everyone to speak freely.
The Pfizer vaccine was authorized for the 5-11age group by the US Food and Drug Administration last week. Overall, according to a CNN report quoting a White House source, around 900,000 children under 12 have already received at least one shot.
Israel has over 1.2 million citizens between the ages of 5 and 11.
So far, out of 9.3 million Israelis, some 6.25 million have received at least one shot, 5.48 million have received two and 4 million have also gotten a booster.
Experts and health officials believe that the vaccination of the 5-11 cohort will offer a significant contribution to the fight against the pandemic.
It will still take a few days before the drive can start since the vaccines need to be delivered to the country.
The Pfizer vaccine for children is slightly different than the one for adults: it is administered in dosages of 10 mg. as opposed to 30 mg., and is kept in different vials.