Coronavirus in Israel: Over half a million already got both shots

Some Israeli health funds to vaccinate people 35-years-young * 2,8 million Israelis already got at least the first

Visibly pregnant 34-year-old Narkis receives her coronavirus vaccine in Tel Aviv, January 21, 2021.  (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/ MAARIV)
Visibly pregnant 34-year-old Narkis receives her coronavirus vaccine in Tel Aviv, January 21, 2021.
Some 550,000 Israelis have already received both shots of the coronavirus vaccine, and as many as 2.8 million at least the first, the Health Ministry reported Wednesday as some Israeli health funds stated that they would also allow people as young as 35 to make an appointment to be inoculated.
Clalit, the largest health fund in the country, made the announcement a day after the ministry expanded the vaccination campaign to include all people over 40.
Also, the Meuhedet health fund is allowing 35-year-olds to book a slot.
While the pandemic figures in Israel continue to be alarming, the country is also rushing to vaccinate its adult population as fast as possible, in the hope to reach herd immunity levels.
On Tuesday over 200,000 people were inoculated, marking a new record as the Health Ministry set a new goal of administering 250,000 shots per day.
About 77% of the population over 60 has already received at least the first vaccine.
According to Prof. Galia Rahav, director of the Infectious Diseases Unit at Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer and a member of the of Health Ministry’s committee devoted to the issue, Israel does not need to restrict its vaccination campaign to targeted groups anymore, as there are enough vaccines to open up to the general adult population.
“There is no need for a prioritization protocol anymore,” Rahav, told Channel 13. “There are enough vaccines. The priority system no longer works in the field.”
A spokesperson for Clalit told The Jerusalem Post that they opened appointments to 35-year-olds because the health fund’s daily capacity to inoculate – 100,000 shots a day – exceeds appointments and therefore they wanted to avoid any waste of materials or manpower. She added that Clalit is not actively reaching out to those under 40 to get vaccinated.
When asked if they had cleared their decision with the ministry, she said that she did not know.
However, later in the day a spokesperson for the Health Ministry restated that at the moment the guidelines for the campaign include only individuals who are 40 and older.
“The planning of the vaccine protocol and targeted groups is a central activity of the Health Ministry in cooperation with the health funds, and is determined according to the amount of vaccines and the capacity to inoculate,” said Health Ministry spokeswoman Anat Danieli Lev. “At this juncture, the instructions given to the field allows for the vaccination of those who are older than 40. The ministry will change the guidelines from time to time according to the reading of the situation.”
Health Ministry officials also said that they are considering giving a priority to high school students aged 16-18, as requested by Defense Minister Benny Gantz at Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, and as recommended by Hebrew University Prof. Yinon Ashkenazy, the coronavirus cabinet adviser.
“I see no reason why it should not happen,” Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Chezy Levy said to channel 12, adding that a decision would be made as early as Thursday.