COVID-19: In-school vaccine program ends after 3 weeks, 56,000 shots

School nurses, who usually innoculate children with commonly-distributed vaccines such as the measles vaccine, were directed to delay those vaccination schedules in favor of COVID-19 shots.

 Children receive their dose of Covid-19 vaccine, at a Clallit vaccine center in Jerusalem on December 21, 2021.  (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
Children receive their dose of Covid-19 vaccine, at a Clallit vaccine center in Jerusalem on December 21, 2021.
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

Israel’s initiative to have school nurses innoculate Israeli children with COVID-19 vaccines ended on Tuesday after just two-and-a-half weeks of being implemented, Public Health Services director Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis announced Tuesday night.

School nurses, who usually innoculate children with commonly-distributed vaccines such as the measles vaccine, were directed to delay the flu, measles and mumps vaccination schedules in favor of COVID-19 shots. The program led to 56,00 children receiving COVID-19 vaccines at school.

In a discussion held in the Knesset's Education Committee, Ziva Stahl, the director of the Department of Health Education and Promotion at the Ministry of Education, noted that the COVID-19 vaccines were discontinued in favor of the previously-planned routine vaccines – adding that children would still be able to get vaccinated against COVID-19 at other healthcare facilities.

The in-school vaccination initiative began on December 23rd. ​​“We are on the verge of a fifth wave of the pandemic, which may be more intense than the previous ones,” Tel Aviv-Yafo Mayor Ron Huldai said in a statement announcing the initiative. “It is important that we show solidarity and personal responsibility, so, this week we will start vaccinating children aged 6 and over, in schools and during school hours - just like all other children's vaccines given in schools.”

 Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is seen accompanying his nine-year-old son get vaccinated against COVID-19 as Israel rolls out vaccinations for children aged 5-11, on November 23, 2021. (credit: AMOS BEN GERSHOM/GPO) Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is seen accompanying his nine-year-old son get vaccinated against COVID-19 as Israel rolls out vaccinations for children aged 5-11, on November 23, 2021. (credit: AMOS BEN GERSHOM/GPO)

Aryeh Moore, deputy director of the Education Ministry's security division, presented data during the discussion on child vaccination rates, showing that 41% of first-graders, 43.5% of second-graders, 46% of third-graders, 48% of fourth-graders, 51% of fifth-graders, 52% of sixth-graders, 62% of seventh-graders, and about 70% of eighth-grade to twelfth-grade students are vaccinated against COVID-19, Ynet reports.

Moore also supported the vaccination initiative, even asking for a one-week extension to the operation so that school nurses could innoculate members of the Arab population, who are returning from winter break and are among Israel’s least-frequently vaccinated cohort.