COVID: Israel to hold live session on kids’ vaccine as US starts to jab

On Thursday, the Pandemic Response Team’s meeting about inoculation for children 5-11 will be livestreamed with selected representatives of the public invited to voice their opinion.

 Health worker prepares a Covid-19 vaccine at a temporary Clalit health care center in Jerusalem, October 3, 2021.  (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Health worker prepares a Covid-19 vaccine at a temporary Clalit health care center in Jerusalem, October 3, 2021.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

The Coronavirus Pandemic Response Team that has been advising the Health Ministry on its health policies throughout the crisis will hold a public session on vaccination for children ages 5-11 on Thursday, a day after the cohort began to be inoculated in the US.

Israelis will be able to watch the debate on several channels, including the ministry’s Facebook page, Twitter account and YouTube channel, the ministry said.

In the past few days, the authorities invited those who wish to speak during the session or to ask a question to send in an application.

The meeting – set to start at 3 p.m. – will be opened by the remarks of its chairman, Dr. Boaz Lev, which will be followed by the presentation of information regarding the efficacy and other medical aspects of the vaccine.

After a 10-minute break, some representatives of the Pediatric Association and experts in pediatric infectious diseases will offer their perspectives.

Vials with Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine labels are seen in this illustration picture taken March 19, 2021.  (credit: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC/ILLUSTRATION/FILE PHOTO)Vials with Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine labels are seen in this illustration picture taken March 19, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC/ILLUSTRATION/FILE PHOTO)

In the third part of the session, 20 members of the public will be given the opportunity to talk for three minutes each. The ministry committed to select them in order to give voice to a plurality of opinions, including to those who oppose the vaccination of children. The speakers will be called in alphabetical order, and no form of verbal abuse will be tolerated.

Regarding the questions sent in by the public, a facilitator will raise them in front of the panel, whose experts will respond.

On Wednesday, the United States began to inoculate its 28 million children in the relevant cohort, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the Pfizer shot for broad use. Last week, a panel of outside advisers at the Food and Drug Administration voted in favor of it.

However, only a limited number of the 15 million shots being distributed were set to be available on Wednesday. They are expected to be more widely accessible at pediatrician’s offices, children’s hospitals and pharmacies next week.

The Pandemic Response Team is not set to make a decision during the public session on Thursday.

Even after the inoculation is green-lighted – as is widely expected – Israel will need to wait for the vaccine shipment to arrive in the country, which is supposed to happen around mid-November.

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 vials that are also different.

Israel is set to begin its vaccination campaign as the country appears to have left the fourth wave of the disease behind.

As of Wednesday, the number of active cases stood at 7,388. At the peak of the wave, in the beginning of September, there were over 80,000.

The number of serious patients has dropped to 201, compared to 740 at the end of September.

Some 663 new cases were identified on Tuesday, while a month earlier there were over 2,500.

At the same time, children 0-11 represented the majority of the new virus carriers – 45% of those identified in the previous week.

The hope of many health officials and experts is that with the cohort 5-11 – over 1.2 million children – becoming eligible for a jab, the country will be able to achieve solid herd immunity and general protection from the virus.

Reuters contributed to this report.