Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called on parents to vaccinate their children.
The statement on Thursday came a day after the Pandemic Response Team and the Advisory Committee on Vaccines – both supporting the Health Ministry in the fight against corona – green-lighted the inoculation with 73 votes in favor and two opposed.
“There is no reason to leave our children without protection, there is no reason for a child to get infected and infect others,” Bennett said. “I call on parents: protect your children, take care of them, give them the same layer of protection you have.”
At the moment, children younger than 12 represent around half the new corona cases identified every day in Israel.
The vaccination campaign is expected to kick off in a week or two, depending on when Israel receives the supply of vaccines.
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.
According to reports in Israeli media, the government is working to move up the delivery to be able to start inoculating the age group next week.
Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Nachman Ash said that tests for children under 12 will remain free even after the shots for them are available.
“We want parents to make the right decision from the health perspective,” Ash said speaking to the army radio. “It is true that the life of those who are vaccinated is more convenient, but we do not want anyone to decide based on economic considerations so the tests will continue to be free.”
In order for the vaccination campaign to begin, Ash will need to issue a formal decision and a detailed policy.
Israel has 1.3 million citizens between the age of 5 and 11, over 200,000 of whom have already recovered from the disease.
Regarding the possibility of administering one shot to reinforce their immunity – as is the policy for older recovered individuals – the panel divided: 34 said that the vaccine should be recommended within a certain period, 23 said it should be recommended regardless of how much time has elapsed since the child’s recovery, while eight said that it should not be recommended. Ten others were unaccounted for.
Ash confirmed that the issue will probably need to be discussed again.
“There is a possibility we’ll cover this in a deeper discussion,” he said. “We do not want to give a vaccine we should not administer, but we also do not want children who fell ill a long time ago to think they are protected even though they are not.”