Health Ministry: Due to shortage, Israel will take 2-week vaccine break

"We are working on renewing the shipping inventory because we started a little ahead of time."

An Israeli woman receives a coronavirus vaccine in Jerusalem. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
An Israeli woman receives a coronavirus vaccine in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Israel will have a two-week break in the vaccination of the general public due to an expected shortage of vaccines and the need to hold on to an amount that can be used for the second "booster" shot required by people who have been inoculated once, Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Chezy Levy said on Thursday. 
Levy was referring to reports that the vaccine campaign will stop in ten days due to a shortage. In addition, the director-general addressed the issue of vaccines among teaching staff, as well as cases in which the entire population is invited to be vaccinated before the vaccines run out.
Will the vaccine run out in ten days?
No, we will start a second round of vaccinations. There will be a two-week break, but we are working on renewing the shipping inventory because we started a little ahead of time.
Will vaccines be renewed at the end of January, and do you estimate that they will be open to the public?
I'm not sure about everyone, but there is a high probability. Teachers are a very respected group that should have priority, but we thought it was important to vaccinate the high-risk population with pre-existing health conditions. We are currently considering allowing teachers at a certain age to get vaccinated.
Do people aged 60 and above have enough vaccines until the break?
The answer is yes, but of course it depends on the response rate. Those who have been vaccinated are guaranteed a second dose.
Why is there no organized message system that publicizes a vaccine surplus?
There is a system in place, but maybe it is not effective enough. We have been learning lessons along the way. Those that operate the vaccination sites are responsible for notifying the public if there is a surplus of vaccines.
Is there an effect on someone who has been vaccinated once?
Yes. Yesterday we spoke to Pfizer's chief scientist. There is an effect and it is felt by more than half of those who have received the vaccine.
It is still not clear what will happen until the second dose, therefore we will continue to vaccinate.
What about the side effects and the person that died of a heart attack?
We are closely monitoring the side effects. They all pass quickly. For example, redness and mild pain in the injection area, fatigue, a slight fever. We're already familiar with all of the side effects from the flu vaccine.
As for the person who died, we researched and looked into it. This person had many serious illnesses and we do not think his death was connected to the vaccine. There was another death that day, but it was a person with very serious illnesses and we are sure that it is not connected to the vaccine.
Do you feel the effects of the lockdown?
While commerce and trading are not running, this is not the lockdown we thought it should be. I am afraid that the rate of morbidity in this lockdown will not be good enough to prevent more infection and death.
Perhaps this means has exhausted itself in the eyes of the public?
I think that we are all tired of this year and this virus. Some people have lost their businesses, and the public is tired. Has the lockdown exhausted itself? Did the previous lockdown fail to work? 
I want to remind you that out of 9,000 verified coronavirus patients per day and 900 seriously ill patients, the rate of infection decreased very quickly to an infection factor of 0.6 during the lockdown, with about a thousand daily patients. You can't say the lockdown didn't work, but we exited it a little too quickly.
Do we know of any other tool for reducing morbidity? Apparently not yet – therefore social distancing is the last resort. 
The government and the police are also tired of the lockdown. Maybe the prime minister is busy with elections and therefore does not feel comfortable sending the police out? 
"Both the prime minister and health minister are busy with the lockdown. It is a difficult situation. We have the vaccines, so everything is fine. We do not yet have all the vaccines – we are far from it. I hope that at the end of January, we'll be having a different conversation." 
Translated by Abigail Adler.